The Hollow Ones are the undead of Kuramen; born when mages overreach their powers and die without destroying themselves entirely in the process, they are an understandably rare kind of entity. The raw power of magic pouring through them sustains the body as the soul slips away, leaving behind body and mind. The Hollow One is wracked by a kind of hunger, a need to fill the vacant space within itself. It is both more than mortal and less, for it is the force of magic flowing through the emptiness that sustains it, yet it is not truly alive, unable to learn and grow as a living creature does. They are driven by this hollowness and the need to fill it, preying on the truly living and stealing scraps of their spirits to temporarily sate themselves.
The Hollow Ones resemble emaciated versions of their original race, their skin drawn taut and their flesh seemingly withered away. With sufficiently loose clothing, however, they could almost pass for living mortals; their eyes, however, give them away, the once-soft orbs having sloughed away to be replaced with motes of raw thaumic energy that blazes in colors that lack names. Their voices are dry and soft, as if a gentle breeze were carrying the words rather than a true voice, and they inevitably have a subtle scent of decay about them, even long years after they have become little more than skin-wrapped skeleton.
The Hollow Ones are excellent spellcasters; drawing upon the stuff that sustains them, they have achieved a degree of control and power that mortal mages can only dream of. They almost never risk their spells going awry, instinctively able to draw the most power they can safely handle, although they may deliberately overreach themselves in calculated gambles. However, this mastery of magic is the only way they grow as time passes; in all other respects, their levels of skill are frozen as they were when the creature’s mortal soul slipped away. They are still able to acquire knowledge, but it is a distant thing, something they must focus on to draw forth, much like searching in a library for a book. The exception to this is things learned within a few hours of the Hollow One feeding; during this time, as they sublimate the soulstuff they have stolen, their ability to learn knowledge is almost as adept as it was when they were living, and they may later recall things learned in this time quite easily.
Hollow Ones rarely follow the pattern of the undead in other realms; rather than dwelling in dusty crypts and decrepit towers, many move into bustling cities, either becoming criminals or seeking out honest employment that affords them the chance to sate their needs. More than a few major cities make use of the incredible longetivity of the Hollow Ones by giving them condemned prisoners to feed upon in exchange for either their superb magical skills or their endless memory when well-fed. The city-state of Unual, in particular, relies on a trio of Hollow Ones who effectively rule the city; they are the only beings with full knowledge of the intricate and convoluted system of laws in the city, having dwelled there as it evolved around them. Another infamous Hollow One leads a band of raiders from a base within the disjointed bounds of the Thaumic Wastes, ambushing steam-wagon trains that travel too close to the edge of the broken reality.
-They are undead, in that their living soul has passed on, leaving the body and mind behind.
-They are soul-eaters, able to survive indefinitely without sustenance, but unable to truly learn unless fed.
-They do not feed on an entire soul; their touch instead draws off scraps of soulstuff, leaving their victims feeling weak and disoriented for a time. Repeated feedings can eventually be fatal, but a small group - a minimum of a dozen - can sustain one of these creatures indefinitely without lasting harm.
-Unless they deliberately choose to do so, they do not risk magical backlash; being much closer to the stuff of magic than mortals are, they understand their limits intuitively.
The circumstances under which a Hollow One is created are quite rare; it requires a mage to suffer a magical backlash sufficient to kill him, but not in a way that destroys his body. Most often these are mages attempting to tap one of the six Elemental Gods, as the power of the three Primordials is such that simple exposure to it will wreak unpredictable havoc on the mage’s form, and the power of lesser entities is generally insufficient to enable the transformation.