Wisps

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Wisps
Xor.gif
Wisps, from Ultima Underworld II
Species: Wisp
Appearances
Ultima Underworld II
Location: Ethereal Void
Ultima VII
XoriniaWispU7.png
Wisps, from Ultima VII
Location: Deep Forest
Martian Dreams
XorMD.jpg
Wisps, from Martian Dreams
Location: Abandoned City
MD Transcript: Wisps
Savage Empire
Xor2.gif
Wisps, from Savage Empire
Location: Eodon
SE Transcript: Wisps
Ultima Underworld
Xoruw1.gif
Wisps, from Ultima Underworld
Location: the Abyss
Ultima VI
Wisp U6.GIF
Wisps, from Ultima VI
Location: Yew
U6 Transcript: Wisps
The Ultima 6 Project
Wisp-U6Project.png
Wisps, from The Ultima 6 Project
Location: Spiritwood
Ultima V
U5wisp.gif
Wisps, from Ultima V
Description: Enemy Type
U5 Transcript: Wisps
Ultima IV
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Wisps, from Ultima IV
Description: Enemy Type
U4 Transcript: Wisps

Wisps are a hivemind race of inter-dimensional information brokers who manifest on various worlds as sparkling balls of blue light. They appear in Ultima IV, V, VI, VII, as well as in the Ultima Underworld series, Savage Empire and Martian Dreams.

Description[edit]

Wisps identify themselves as representatives of the Xorinite dimension, and the collective consciousness they represent is properly known as "Xorinia." Aloof and dispassionate, the wisps care for little save for the exchange and collection of information - and go to great lengths to arrange trades between various entities throughout the multiverse. To what end the Xorinite community seeks this data has remained largely unknown, and those who deal with wisps are well advised to be careful what they share, as it is liable to be passed to their other clients.[1][2][3]

As physical entities, wisps have a number of powers: including instantaneous teleportation; the capacity to summon hostile creatures; and the ability to break off portions of their luminous corpus to act as scouts. They have long been fearsome opponents in combat, and in later years they were nigh invincible, unless confronted with a weapon such as the Black Sword.

History[edit]

Sosarian Pre-History[edit]

The first known interaction which the wisps had with Sosaria involved a member of an ancient civilization known only as "Zog," who was given a free sample of data by Xorinia in the form of the Armageddon spell some 700,000 years before the foundation of Britannia. Zog, either not comprehending the ramifications of using this incantation, or possessing some nihilistic urge toward self-destruction, cast the spell, causing all life on the planet to cease.[4]

Age of Enlightenment[edit]

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Although life eventually reasserted itself millennia later, the Stranger did not encounter the wisps until after the end of the Age of Darkness. In their earliest meetings, the hero would find these luminary manifestations strangely hostile: wisps would attack numerous times throughout the Stranger's quest toward Avatarhood in Ultima IV, and during the champion's eventual return to depose the tyrant, Blackthorn, in Ultima V.

It was only during the years of Gargish conflict in Ultima VI that the Avatar would be able to converse peacefully with these strange beings. Not being able to distinguish one lifeform on Britannia for another, the Xorinite wisps would see themselves as having already spoken with the hero, having already carried out previous interactions with organisms on the same plane. Trying as best they could to explain their function to the champion of the virtues, the wisps would offer the Avatar an additional "sample," giving the hero information as to how to cast the immensely destructive spell that had once devastated the entire planet.[4]

Should the hero approach a wisp during this age while carrying a copy of The Book of Lost Mantras, the unit addressing the Avatar would indicate that it was a highly prized information source, and would convey that an entity known as "Rklbwm" would pay for the data within it using gold. Should the hero accept this as payment, the wisps would manifest as much of the precious ore as the Avatar's company could carry. If the Avatar instead demanded information as a trade good, however, he would be given knowledge in complicated physical-mathematical terms about how to use the Lenses and the Vortex Cube to return the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom to the Ethereal Void.[5]

In the years immediately following the Lord British and Draxinusom's historic accord, the Avatar could encounter wisps on a variety of worlds. During the hero's adventures in the temporally-shifted Eodon valley of Earth (Savage Empire), the manifestations of Xorinia would freely tell of the fascinating incident that had blocked the valley off from the rest of Terran reality.[6] Later, in the ruins west of the Syrtis Major on 19th century Mars (Martian Dreams), a wisp would offer up data regarding the Martian civilization in exchange for samples of rare dirt money.[7]

Back on Britannia, during captivity in the Abyss under Baron Almric (Ultima Underworld), the Avatar could again briefly encounter another Britannia manifestation of Xorinia, which would again offer knowledge of Armageddon, this time via the medium of runic magic. Should the hero state a reluctance to cast such a spell, the wisp would give congratulations for such wisdom, telling that not all information was useful.

Age of Armageddon[edit]

The wisp in Ultima VII

Two hundred years later, in the age of the Fellowship (Ultima VII), the Avatar would be forced to consult the wisps as a means to seek and audience with the entrapped Time Lord. During this era, however, few knew how to court the attentions of Xorinia, and individual wisp units within the Deep Forest would only respond to certain calls as were made by the nearby Emps. After gaining the friendship of these small simian creatures, the hero would obtain a specially prepared whistle that channels of communication with the enigmatic creatures might again be opened.[8]

Before the Xorinite entities would reveal the means of contacting the Lord of Time, however, they would require information contained in the notebook of Alagner, who was deemed the wisest man in Britannia at the time. Claiming to seek such data on behalf of the "Undrian Council," the wisps would be free-flowing with information once the tome was rendered unto them, telling the Avatar in detail of the Guardian and the Black Gate, in addition to adjusting his Orb of the Moons to focus on the Time Lord's location. However, after the deal had ended, the hero would discover too late that knowledge of Alagner's anti-Fellowship sentiments had reached the ears of the red conqueror through Xorinite exchange, and that the man had been murdered as a result of his notebook's contents.[9]

The last time the Avatar would converse with these strange beings was during adventures to the various worlds of the Blackrock Jewel in Ultima Underworld II. Encountering a manifestation in the blue zone of the Ethereal Void, the hero would have the opportunity to ask Xorinia of the history of the race known as the Trilkhai, among other things. In exchange, the wisp would require knowledge regarding the fate of a freedom fighter known as Bishop, who openly opposed the Guardian's reign on numerous worlds.

Despite the Avatar never again conversing with these Xorinite entities, books on Pagan (Ultima VIII) spoke about strange glowing balls of light appearing on the Plateau where Mythran kept his home, suggesting yet another world visited by these enigmatic beings.

Lore[edit]

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More insubstantial than most evil creatures, Wisps can actually teleport around the battlefield and attack from anywhere. It is most disconcerting to be involved in an encounter that contains a Wisp.
It simply is not known exactly what a wisp is. Harmless looking little bits of flashing light, wisps are extremely agile and highly intelligent. Although they are not strong, they do serious damage, taking their victims by surprise again and again, blow after blow. They often attack in large groups and they teleport from place to place on the battlefield. Worst of all, they can magically possess members of the opposing party. Wisps seem to have impossible strong constitutions and are quite difficult to destroy.
Often mistaken for a harmless, forest firefly, the nocturnal wisp can both mystify and antagonize the adventurer. Though only causing minor harm in any single attack, its uncanny ability to dance about the field of battle, striking at will, can lead to serious cumulative injury.
Ignis Fatuus

The name, according to Professor Rafkin (who named the things), is Latin for "foolish light," or will-o-the-wisp. In the Valley of Eodon, you can occasionally see strange, dancing, wisplike lights in areas removed from man. I don't know whether these are ball lightning or a phosphorescent creature, but they do move around like something alive. The Avatar insists to this day that he had a conversation with one of them, and calls it a "Wisp."


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The wisp (we encountered only one) was different from any other creature on the planet. The Avatar was not surprised to see it, and, indeed, seemed familiar with its odd behaviour. From what I could gather, the wisp was not a creature, but rather part of a larger entity composed entirely of energy. This portion was apparently sent out to communicate with other entities and to gather information. Damaging it was unnecessary, and in fact, counterproductive. It could be dangerous when provoked.
Having the harmless appearance of floating bits of light, the solitary Wisp of the Abyss would appear to be no more than a beautiful apparition. The contrary is true. Wisps are nearly indestructible masses of energy, and given their tremendous speed and devastating electrical attacks, they cannot be fought by ordinary mortals. Our Seers think them capable of casting magic as well, and often seek them out to consult them on arcane matters.
These mysterious floating lights have been a puzzlement to many and adventurer. They seem capable of inflicting only slight physical damage, but they also seem impervious from physical harm themselves. It has been said that these strange creatures are very knowledgeable and that they come from a world other than our own.
Little understood by humans, wisps appear to be beings of pure energy, impervious to any physical weapon. They seem to have sources of knowledge that lie beyond our own reality.

Trivia[edit]

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  • The wisps, their function as transdimensional information brokers, and their connection to Zog were all the inventions of Dr. Cat (David Shapiro).
  • In the SNES Port of Ultima VII, the wisps may be summoned via a Magic Lantern, rather than by using the Wisp Whistle.[10]
  • In Ultima VIII, there are reports of mysterious balls of light on the Plateau, which might imply Xorinite contact on that world - although this theory has never been confirmed.
  • The Wisp was supposed to appear in Ultima VII Part Two, as evidenced by the character portrait found in the usecode, as seen at the right. Why it does not is not known.

See Also[edit]

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References[edit]

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  1. WispUnderworld Dragon's Ultima VII TranscriptUltima VII. "job, name, wisp".
  2. WispEthereal Software's Ultima VI TranscriptUltima VI. "job".
  3. AlagnerUnderworld Dragon's Ultima VII TranscriptUltima VII. "wisps".
  4. 4.0 4.1 WispEthereal Software's Ultima VI TranscriptUltima VI. "secret, Zog".
  5. WispEthereal Software's Ultima VI TranscriptUltima VI.
  6. WispsSavage Empire TranscriptSavage Empire. "anom, vall, eodo, here, dist, moon, modi".
  7. WispsMartian Dreams TranscriptMartian Dreams. "name job, wisp, fee, information, payment".
  8. TrellekUnderworld Dragon's Ultima VII TranscriptUltima VII. "talk to wisps, whistle, wisps".
  9. WispUnderworld Dragon's Ultima VII TranscriptUltima VII. "exchange, information, message, notebook, Time Lord, trade, Undrian Council".
  10. TrellekUltima VII SNES TranscriptUltima VII. "give honey, what?".