Whisps stand approximately three to four feet in height, with a slender build and skin that ranges from a pale, parchment like hue - commonly seen only among the young - to a variety of metallic skin tones, the overall color darkening with age and diet. Hair tends to be dark, thin, and extremely limp in most circumstances; when recently having fed to near-satitation, the hairs atop a Whisp’s head stand up as if electrically charged, often discharing multicolored sparks of thaumaturgic energy. Males can have beards, and older males usually do, growing patchy tufts that, when the Whisp is well-fed, give the impression of a giant ball of fuzz sitting atop the body. Their eyes tend to be a watery blue or green, although much of the time this fact is obscured due to the multicolored glow they emit.
Whisps are the surviving members of the gnomish race; related to the wilderness-dwelling Braun and the amphibious kobolds, the Whisps are the closest thing the world has left to director inheritors of the gnomish legacies.
Gnomes, as a race, had always been obsessed with magic; more than any other race, they felt that finding a way to use true magic safely was the way forward, and they were the only race in Kuramen to administer the Magi’s Test as soon as their children were old enough to take it. Their hope was that, as the race as a whole became more inclined to magic, they would become more akin to the primal entities - the gods and other creatures of the lost ages, to whom magic was second nature.
It was, perhaps, a noble goal; an attempt to fear their people from the fear plaguing the other races, to give the the potential to use magic freely and without fear of destruction by the primal forces involved. Unfortunately, like many noble goals, the road it led down was one to damnation. First the failure of the Magi’s Test gradually purged them of those who could not work magic; then the interbreeding of those who survived sensitized them, until the day came when their instinctive sense of magic was as strong as their ability to see. At first, it seemed like they were on their way to their goal.
And then the symptoms began; nervousness when not working magic, a strong need to ease the nervousness, despite the risks, with just a spell or two, and a sense of euphoria when the spell was cast. Addiction to magic, on a race-wide level; and from there, without any nonmagical members of the race to dilute it, the effect only grew stronger. Within a few generations, the gnomish descendants were forcibly evicted into segregated communities by nearly every settlement, as ‘sleepcasting’ began - confronted with nightmares, the gnomish breed would reflexively try to cast a spell to sooth them; without the clear minds required of magic, mishaps and the associated destruction spread like wildfire.
The end was still far from over; though vastly different than the gnomes from which they were descended, the offspring were still not yet Whisps. It wasn’t until they addiction became so severe that they began to depend more on the presence of raw magic than on food and water that the transition neared completion; gradually, their ability to process normal food withered away, replaced by a consuming hunger for the raw energy of magic. Suffused with the raw energy, they began to exhibit the strange radiances of magical overload, and even when satiated unable to handle a trickle more, the hunger still gnawed; for the stuff of magic may be powerful, but it has no physical substance to it, nothing to satisfy the craving of mortal bodies starved of mortal food from birth.
Now, Whisps are little more than scavengers of magic, unwelcome anywhere civilized, feared by the public for the dangers of their hunger, and feared by mages for the hunger itself. Few live to see their fourth decade, a far cry from a race which once proudly boasted living ancestors who could clearly remember events two centuries gone.
-Whisps are thaumavores; they begin life able to subsist on ambient magical energy, but as they age their need grows almost exponentially.
-A Whisp that consumes more magical energy than their metabolism can process will suffer the effects of a magical mishap; as older Whisps are the most prone to this, such events often destroy large areas.
-Whisps are a mortal race; magic is a more primal substance. While it sustains them, it cannot sate their hunger, and a hungry Whisp is a dangerous one, as it may overeat.
-Older Whisps are often driven to near-madness by their hunger; those of two decades or less are often reasonably coherent, but those older than this are too consumed by their gnawing hunger to be reasoned with.
-Those Whisps young enough to be reasoned with are occasionally employed by thaumatech engineers; either as regulators to keep down the risk of thaumaturgic fallout, or to clean up the pollution that inevitably results. The two drawbacks of this are a Whisp’s hunger driving it to consume to much energy, either destroying itself (and likely everything else nearby) or lowering the energy of the thaumatech process to the point of mass failure.
Whisps are always hungry; even when having recently fed, they can’t help but keep looking at anyone and anything that bears magical energy, even if they know it’s more than they can handle. Younger ones - two decades or less - are usually relatively personable, although they go from childish innocence to a sly, crafty attitude after the first decade or so, as their hunger grows to where they need to find sources to feed off of. Whisps older than this begin to slide into a kind of feral dementia; the hunger gnawing at them is so great that it becomes difficult to focus on anything else save for the rare moments when they border on overfeeding. By the time their fourth decade approaches, many have gone completely mad, governed only by their voracious appetites. Whisps in this state will often attack anyone bearing magic, seeking to devour it without a thought for their own well-being. As a result, most Whisps tend to have children before the middle of their second decade, before their hunger drives even this thought from their minds; the hope that perhaps someday they can break through to the original goal still lingers, dimly, and those unaware of it simply believe this is the way their people have always been.
Other react to Whisps with a general suspicion and paranoia; too many times since the race came into being have small disasters occured from one of these creatures overeating. The only ones who might be glad to see them are the managers of thaumatech factories with alchemical dregs to worry about; even then, only those young enough to still be rational are given any welcome, as the elder Whisps often simply try to invade to feed on the thaumatechnology itself.
Areas where Whisps congregate often experience the effects of thaumaturgic pollution, as the bodily processes of the creatures are not perfectly effecient, and some energy, altered by the digestive process, leaks back into the world. As a result, Whisp colonies are often extremely eerie and disturbing places, with bizarre lights flickering across surfaces and weirdly mutant forms to anything that has been living there for an extended period, aside from the Whisps themselves.
-A small group of Whisps have managed to sneak into a sizable thaumatechnology plant; given the complexity of the thaumatech, rooting the creatures out is difficult, and the engineers are beside themselves in panic. Someone, obviously, needs to clear the Whisps out before they overeat and destroy the entire building, or perhaps the entire area.
-A few alchemical engineers are looking to find a few young Whisps to hire (or perhaps buy) to feed the dregs of the processes to. Perhaps the PCs are hired to find the Whisps; perhaps they oppose the idea of enslaving the young Whisps.
-If one of the players is a thaumatech engineer, a Mage, or simple bears a noticable amount of magical items, an older Whisp begins stalking them. Can they get rid of it before it latches on to feed? If not, can they keep it from overeating?
-Rumors have begun to circulate of a Whisp in his forties, capable of sane, rational conversation and in control of his hunger. Some say he’s learned a discipline to control himself; others say he’s a new evolution of the race. If the former, perhaps he could be sought out to teach new generations of Whisps this self-control. If the latter… Perhaps the gnomes were right after all.