Lifespan: Immortal Height: 4'00"-6'00" Diet: - Sex: Sexless Type: Pony
Wisp ponies are a reclusive, rare breed of pony who live in secluded, wisp-only communities far from the other races. Their unique physiology makes them alluring and interesting to many individuals, leading to careful research, blatant disrespect, or active trafficking. Being that their bodies are highly susceptable to the outside world - often in danger from something as simple as a stream of water - and that many older wisps can recount tales of kidnapping or abuse, they prefer to keep to themselves and their people, building quiet villages far away from everyone else to live their lives in peace. Though they are not resistant to outsider friendships and connections, they cannot help but be wary - out of an entirely-justified trepidation.
Wisp ponies' reproduction is wholly unique to them, and an important facet of why they prefer to live in their own secluded villages. As they do not reproduce biologically, they can populate small towns with a tiny core of progentiors. As they lack a need for food or water, too, they are all the more incentivized to carve out a small space for themselves alone, off in the gentler wildernesses.
Like Kirin and Zlimi, wisps have cores that contain their major pools of Magninium and their mind. Wisps' cores bridge the gap between Kirins' and Zlimis', as they can be of any object so long as it is hollow and can contain their magic/body. Despite being a core-bound race, wisps do not often feel as if their core is their "self", but merely a protective shell around their true self, their body. They are charmed to find other wisps with similar cores, and enjoy striking up discusssion or friendship with them.
Cores' only requirement is that they have a hollow portion inside of them with an open vent to the outside air. This vent is open when the wisp pony's body is outside the core, but can close (if there is a lid) when they retreat inside, though a lid is not required. The size of the hollow space inside has little to no impact on the resulting wisp - but combining three or more adults' magic into one new baby does require a larger hollow space than average.
To create new wisp ponies, two (or more, but never less) adults must take small parts of their bodies and add them to a hollow object. Over the course of a week, this core will develop into the shell of a young wisp pony, who will then go on to mature over the next twenty years. Wisp ponies can participate in this ritual roughly once a month; shearing the body too often results in exhaustion and injury, making it difficult to produce more children quicker than that.
For some families, selecting a core for their child is a precious occasion that requires extensive prep and planning. Some groups carve specific cores out of wood, metal, or clay for their children, engraving them with symbols of their lineage, their hopes for the child, or stories and fables. For others, any nearby hollow object will do - grabbing whatever is nearest and meets the criteria of being a core in a fit of passion.
Wisp ponies have two distinct genders within their society, though there is no cultural difference between the two, no pronoun difference, and no requirement for both to be present in reproduction. Rather, they are an entirely aesthetic difference - one dictated at birth, granted, but with no bearing on their life other than a note of interest.
The genders are dictated by the presence (or lack) of glowing Magninium wisps around the eyes. Having these wisps is known as "Glowing", while the lack is "Pitch". Glowing individuals tend to dress to either accent or enhance the color of their glow, taking great pride in their added coloration - as glows are not the same color as their iris. Pitch individuals dress in a wider variety of colors at once, often boasting elaborate clothing of five-to-seven colors.
As gender in Numbers is overall fluid, if present at all, many other races are often fascinated by wisp ponies' adherence to such an idea. Wisps are aware that other races lack gender, but tend to think of other individuals as being Glowing or Pitch depending on the clothes that they wear and their general aesthetics.
Wisps are seen as endearing and cute for their fragility, unique bodies, and habit of retreating into their cores when scared. They are often stereotyped as being shyly friendly - which, while not wrong, often disregards or diminishes their intelligence and independence. It is somewhat rare to see a wisp living in mixed societies, but not unplausible - especially if the local laws are aggressive in their protection. These city-dwellers are often confused and somewhat offended at the idea of their cousins within wisp villages.
In media, they are often depicted as the pet of wealthy or rich individuals, with no hint of their culture or villages to be seen. Documentaries and nonfiction about wisps is uncommon, out of fear of outing the location of interviewed or studied villages.
Wisp ponies are entirely made of a thick, dark-gray to black smoke, considered by many to be a mixture of Magninium and a blood-like substance. It holds itself in the vague shape of any of the pony races, like a silhouette, but wisp ponies are incapable of utilizing the abilites of the races they appear like. This silhouette is decided at birth and grows with them into adulthood. Their silhouette shape has no genetic component, however, and it is considered closer to an expression of base conceptual identity than an actual inherited appearance. Still, this silhouette mimic is why they are considered a pony race, despite their inability to procreate with any of the others.
The only bit of color on their bodies is their iris color, which like all races mimics their Magninium color. The rest of their eyes is a pale white to light gray, as are the outlines of the features of their face, which many non-wisps claim seems more like the "impression" of a face than any actual structure.
Their control of their body is somewhat fluid. They are able to slip through small cracks in windows or doors, and pass through walls as if they were nothing as they please, but cannot change the specifics of their silhouette as if they were a Zlimi or Beaut. Their core attains whatever properties they control their body to have - so it too will pass through a wall, despite being a solid object.
Wisp ponies do not naturally die of old age, but their bodies are fragile, and easily torn apart by even mere wind or water. When a body is scattered apart, wisps find it more and more difficult to concentrate on the present and their sense of self - and will die if their bodies are not returned to their core and protected. As such, many are exceptionally cautious about the outside world, and take many steps to avoid harm to themselves - including extensive use of protective clothing or gear.
Anything that could disrupt their smoke-like body is a possible threat. Don't consider the examples listed here to be definitive; there are many things that could risk a wisps' life.
They do not require food, water, or as much sleep as the other races. Wisp ponies tend to stay awake for about forty-eight hours at a time, and then sleep for ten hours.
When frightened, stressed, or tired, wisp ponies may retreat into their cores and hide. Their body will disperse into smoke and retract into the hollow parts of their core. The core itself will appear as an everyday object, and can be picked up or moved - meaning that doing this leaves wisps deeply vulnerable. They will typically only retreat into their cores when within their own villages, or when not doing so would result in death - being caught outside during a severe rainstorm, for example.
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For many wisps, their culture is the entire scope of their lives. They are free of mundane needs - food and drink - and are thus divorced by the requirement of survival most races endure. As such, they have formed their own small societies away from greater nations and cities, filled entirely with other wisps and long histories. Within these villages, they focus on two pillars: fashion and family.
Though not opposed to meeting outsiders or welcoming a handful into the village, they are naturally cautious. They trust in the words of their elders and family heads, who continually remind younger wisps of the very real danger they are often in. Wisps generally can be agoraphobic, isolationist, and overly anxious - often scanning for possible threats to their body and retreating from unfamiliar situations. They tend to frown upon risk and risk-takers, preferring stability and familiarity.
However, this leaves them susceptable to abuse of authority and manipulation. They are neither adept mages (leaving many open to mind-altering magic use) nor distrustful of people once they have earned their way into wisps' good graces. People of status can easily take advantage of many wisps' deference to administrative or powerful figures,
Clothing is the central tenet of wisp culture. Having almost universally the same body and look, they seek to individualize themselves and spend their lives working the craft of tailoring. Master tailors are highly-regarded members of society, and their handiwork is highly valued and prized.
Wisp ponies are renown for their elaborate clothing and accessories - their ensembles are incredibly colorful, detailed, and stunning. Wisp ponies place great pride on creating beautiful clothes that are not overwhelming to the eye; toeing the line of elegant and garish is a skill that many seek to hone to a fine talent.
Lineages will pass down unique bolts of fabric, techniques, patterns, symbols, and tools to their progeny, who will then add their personal flair and pass it on to their own children. These fashions are jealously defended, and the copying of another family's fashions is seen as uncreative and despicable, lowering the reputation of the copier's family. Many long-lived lineages have a family quilt, flag, or tapestry that all new members sew an idea into, and these are heavily enchanted and protected - only displayed during festivals or celebrations of that particular family.
Relationships are often decided by these lineages - an individual may court one of another lineage to seek to add to their tapestry, or to receive permission to "borrow" an aspect of their style. This is seen as the only way to copy another family's work without accruing the label of copying, and is indeed the reason for many couples' existence. Wisp ponies are highly polygamous, with most families being made up of many individuals, even if they are only minorly linked to the true lineage.
Villages are the cornerstone of most wisps' culture - where they are born, will mature in, and forge their own identity. It is rare for a wisp to leave their home village, as they feel a strong connection to their hometown and are typically fearful of the outer world.
Most villages are enclosed within aboveground caves, the most common natural formation that provides protection for wisps from the elements. Particularly industrious groups may create their own "caves" through pure construction or by altering the landscape around them, such as by threading together tree fronds to form a protective canopy. A good site for a village includes a source of gentle, clean water for cleaning and watering animals or plants, but it does not require arable land (unless the village intends to rear livestock).
Most houses within a village are compact, small, and comprised mostly of small, padded alcoves with locked doors - bedrooms. Though wisps do not sleep as often as other races, they retreat into their core to rest, and do so for long periods of time. Sleeping cores are stored within these alcoves by their family. Growing cores are also stored here - but in marked, special alcoves separate from bedrooms.
Despite the danger, most wisp ponies enjoy spending time outside - where they will work and chat with one another. In the village's center, the master tailors will work on new clothings while discussing the gossip of the village or news from the outer world. Others may work farms, construction, produce material goods (such as fabric, brick, ceramics, etc), court others, or watch over the village's children.
Wisp ponies raise children as a group - all members of a family or lineage are expected to take care of new children and look after them. It is also generally accepted to watch other families' children, should they be playing in mixed groups. Care is taken to teach children how to protect themselves from outside dangers, as well as emotional empathy and tailoring. Other than this, there is no meaningful formal education provided - wisps trust common knowledge to handle the rest for them.
As there is no genetic component to wisp ponies' reproduction, inbreeding is not a problem, nor do wisp ponies think of each other in terms of "mother", "father", "sibling", etc. The only 'family' they think of is their lineage, which can be a rather loose definition. However, it is socially frowned upon to court within one's lineage - it's expected that children will mix with other lineages to bring fresh ideas to their family. Stagnation is reviled.
The production of new children is often dictated somewhat by the family heads, who also manage the village's overall affairs. Generally, one must seek permission from their family's head to have a child. The head will consider the size of the village, the current amount of children within it, the availability of the houses, and then either allow or deny the request. Most of the time, the answer is "yes", but it may be denied for exceptional circumstances - such as the village planning to move to a safer location.
Most villages attempt to keep their population between 100 to 3,000 depending on how well the local area can support them and their proximity to other settlements.
Wisp ponies do not die natural deaths, and are considered naturally Immortal on the god spectrum. However, they can be easily killed by many other means, as their bodies are fragile and their cores even moreso. It is not uncommon to have accidental deaths within and around villages - someone misjudging the danger of a particular river, or mistaking the weather to be lighter than it was.
When this occurs, the village attempts to retrieve the core. If capable, the core will be broken down and recycled into a new core, and the new individual will likely be named a variation of the old's name. If the core cannot be obtained, many of the village will mourn deeply in a ritual known as Last Death. During Last Death, a vigil will be held in which many wisps discuss the deceased, remark upon their relationships, and relish in their accomplishments. Afterwards, they will not reuse the deceased's name.
Wisps consider attempting to live on in the Dead Zone to be somewhat foolish, as doing so unncessarily interferes with the life of the new individual that inherited one's core. They do not hold rituals regarding memories of the deceased (other than Last Death), and do not try to compare new individuals to their namesakes'. In short, wisps believe that denying the magic's right to move on in the cycle actively harms it and the production/lives of new wisps.
"Houseless" is the term village wisp ponies use for those that live in cities as individuals or small group units. They claim that houseless wisps are disconnected from greater wisp culture, and point to the lack of extensive clothing as proof - as many wisp outfits are somewhat difficult to wear in day-to-day structured life. They also believe that houseless wisps have placed themselves in grave danger for no real benefit, finding it confusing why any wisp would want to live in mixed societies that are focused around material needs that wisps lack. Houseless wisps often detest the term and avoid its usage.
Of course, specifics vary with individuals. Some houseless may reclaim the word for themselves in a rebel or punk fashion; some villages may not look down upon houseless wisps and instead communicate with them freely.
Wisp ponies do not require food or water for sustenance, nor are they capable of consuming such. However, they do enjoy the aesthetics of growing plants, and oft have enormous flower or mushroom gardens around their villages. If a particular village is in repeated contact with outer races, they may grow foodstock or magical ingredients in order to trade for what they cannot produce.
Wisp ponies are especially sensitive to the weather. Harsh sunlight burns them to nothingness, swift-moving water tears their bodies apart, and high winds blow them to pieces. As such, they are incredibly careful about where they construct societies, and often make their homes in sheltered locations such as aboveground caves. Bad weather is not a mere annoyance to them, but a real threat to life - they will avoid going outside if they so much as suspect rain, and refuse to build societies in frigid wastes or sun-scorched deserts.
They are wholly incapable of living underwater, as the stress of both the pressure and the water's current would kill them. However, despite not being capable of flight, their ability to control their body's world collision means they can access and live on cloud cities without protective gear... not that many would, considering the temperatures and wind.