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Kheldian Backstory guide 1.0
      #4569535 - 01/19/06 05:29 AM

So, who or what is a Kheldian?

This isn't a guide to how to slot a Kheldian, how to play one, or what powers are best. This is a guide for those curious about what a Kheldian is supposed to be "inside" the game world. This will (hopefully) answer questions on why they're here, what they are, what we know of their history and culture and why they can do the things they do.

What is a Kheldian?
In-game: An "Epic" (story driven) AT unlocked when you reach level 50. You can play a Peacebringer or Warshade, which have a few differences between them.

But what ARE they?

Kheldians are energy beings from outside our galaxy. There are three types you'll typically encounter in the City of Heroes universe - Peacebringers, Warshades, and Nictus.

Peacebringers: Regular Kheldians. The Peacebringers themselves are dedicated to hunting down the Nictus and destroying them for what they did to the Kheldian race (and still plan on.)

Warshades: "Redeemed" Nictus. These are Nictus that have had a change of heart, merging willingly with another instead of trying to force their way in. They fight alongside the Peacebringers against the Nictus, and have a sometimes uneasy truce with them.

Nictus: These are Kheldians who, when faced with the short native lifespan of the Kheldian people, turned to science and changed themselves. They feed off of life energy, and were at one point able to siphon the life force of the Kheldians from great distances.

From the Moonfire task force:

"I have told you that the Nictus once fed upon other Kheldians. What I did not tell you was how. The Nictus scientists developed a powerful energy transfer device that could rip away a Kheldian's life force, even at a distance of light years. This terrible weapon is the reason we Peacebringers have resolved to destroy all Nictus, wherever they may be."

How long do Kheldians live?

The native lifespan of an unjoined Kheldian is 10 years. (Also from Moonfire.) Some have said the Nictus lifespan was reduced to 5 years, but I have yet to see a citation for that.

Kheldians can, however, merge with a host being. They aren't (typically) parasitic, though the Nictus often seem to try to take over the host's mind. With a continual chain of hosts, Kheldians are functionally immortal. (Shadowstar, the Warshade leader, has been around since ancient Egypt - 3000 to 5000 years.)

Nictus, after travelling across vast distances via Shadow Cysts, tend to be weak and use the cysts as "life support" if no host is ready. If the cyst is destroyed, the Nictus die off quickly, regardless of age.


Yes. Most beings are, for lack of a better description, like apartments to Kheldians. They can move in, if the host is willing (or very weak,) and they can seperate at will. They cannot be forced into someone (again, unless they're very weak, or "boosted" in as Arakhn tried to do.) And with enough willpower, the host can force them out. No 30 day notice needed.

The joining has advantages for both the host and the Kheldian.

The host gets power - typically seen in-game as attacks, shields and the like. In addition, it seems the host's natural lifespan is increased as well.

The Kheldian, as mentioned, stretches its lifespan when joined. In addition, in the future it can make an energy "copy" of any being it's been joined with in the past - such as the Nova and Dwarf forms of tri-form Kheldians. (So, yes, in the future a Kheldian from Paragon could merge with something else and change to Human form. Or alien, or catgirl, or whatever else it merged with.)


Yes, forms. Being energy, Kheldians have no natural "shape." At best they appear as wisps of energy. OK, occasionally bad tempered, deadly wisps of energy, but wisps nontheless. You can see this if you run across a Shadow Cyst - it'll spout "puffs" called Unbound Nictus that will do their best to kill you. They're pretty good at it when they get going.

Most people that have seen a Kheldian are used to two non-host forms:

NOVA - also known as the "squid," this flying, tentacled form (no relation to the GSM) is based on a life form the Kheldians encountered that lived in a gas giant. It has inherent flying ability - not much to stand on in a gas giant, after all.

There are two "types" of Nova, the Bright and Dark Novas. They're essentially the same, and best thought of much like Human races - just because you're Asian, Caucasian, African or whatnot, you're still human. The Bright Novas are from the gas giant's upper reaches, and are called Mefnanim. The Dark Novas are from the depths of the same planet, and called Hulmanim. (In-game info.)

DWARF - also called the "lobster," this slow moving, tough form is derived from creatures that lived on the surface of a very dense dwarf star. It's very durable, and has an inherent self-teleport ability.

Once more, two "types" or "races." The White Dwarf form's "base" race are called the Kurukt, and lived on neutron stars. The Black Dwarf form is based on the Ruktur, who are said to have lived on the surface of a pulsar. Yes, we know how small those are. It's a comic-book world. (In-game info.)

Also, as mentioned, it appears the Kheld can make a copy of anything it's joined with previously. Judging from story arcs and in-game canon, it's an individual memory, not a racial memory. This also lets "all Human" or bi-form (Human/Dwarf, Human/Nova, even - though I haven't seen anyone play this - dwarf/nova) Khelds explain why they don't have "all" their forms. We don't know if there's a limit to the number of forms they can assume or not - it's possible a Kheldian could visit, say, three other planets, have five more species of hosts, and become octoform. (And you think you run out of slots NOW....)

Do they have any other effects on the hosts?

Well, other than glowing eyes, it's hard to say. Given this is in City of Heroes, people with odd colored skin (or made up color) aren't exactly rare. Given there's no consistent coloration, it's a safe bet it's part of a costume.

In addition, when forcably seperated at least, the two halves can "feel" the other's out there. We don't know if this happens with a willing seperation or not. (Lars Mendehlson, Absense of Shadows (WS) arc -


They used their magic, and they pulled us apart. They pulled Altered Umbra out of Lars Medelson, and trapped it in a crystal. The Kheldian is gone, and so is part of me. I can still feel Altered Umbra, my Kheldian half, out there somewhere. The rituals they're doing here will sever that connection forever. You've got to stop them! And you've got to rescue Altered Umbra! I know where he is. I wish I could help you, but I'm... I'm not Shadowcatcher anymore. I'm not sure I'm even lars Mendelson.

We don't know if this is from the magic, a side effect of forcable seperation, or if it "always" happens.

Who runs the Kheldians?

For the Nictus - Arakhn is the head cheese. On the other hand, Requiem says

When we are done and this world is under our rule, the Nictus will need a leader if we are to stave off the certain Peacebringer assault and quell the growing number of Warshades. If you show such weakness again, you shall not live to challenge me for the title.

so it's hardly a "secure" position. Arakhn's also in charge of the Galaxy troops and Void Hunter mercenaries, while Requiem has the War Wolves.

For the Warshades, at least on Earth, Shadowstar seems to be the boss.

For the Peacebringers, the top one We know of is Sunstorm. He seems to have some clout, as Shadowstar refers to him when mentioning the truce between the Peacebringers and Warshades. Moonfire, however, seems to be the Kheld "PR" department and liason with other superheroes and hero groups.

As for a "ruling body," the Kheldians ARE extragalactic. While there may be a "ruling council" or something similar, the Peacebringers on earth don't seem to refer to them.

How long have they been here?

A very long time. As mentioned before, Shadowstar has been around since the time of ancient Egypt. The Nictus have definitely been here at least as long, given references to the Path of the Dark (using Shadow Seeds - essentially Nictus Cysts) being here since Ancient Rome - and they sounded pretty well established by that time. (The cyst in Ravenna mentioned in the PotD arc has been there since the 5th century AD.)

How long have the Peacebringers been here? We don't know. There are many scattered around the globe, some joined, some not - Sunstorm makes mention of them, as does Moonfire. They have chased the Nictus "across half the universe."

*** Spoiler *** Requiem planned to use Shadow Cysts ('Shadow Seeds') planted across the globe to take over and make Earth a new Nictus homeworld. During the Kheld arcs, you find a 70 year old map showing the plans. So they've been growing and planning this for quite some time. Why they've waited this long? Hard to say. My *guess* is that it's a combination of an increased Peacebringer presence and technology finally getting to a point where they can force Nictus into unwilling hosts en masse. (Moonfire TF.)

How did they GET here?

Again - no definitive answer. Sorry to sound like a broken record.

The following is pure conjecture on my part:
Nictus can travel great distances very quickly, by using a Shadow Cyst. The Cysts are made by (or from) weakened Nictus, and are quite tough. I could see a colony of Nictus, weakened, getting encysted and just being scattered like dandelion seeds, with one landing on Earth some millenia ago.

Creating Cysts requires three things - a weakened Nictus, the "right" crystals, and the "right" energy available. This leads to some of the speculation at the end of the guide - that the reason there was no earlier attempt to take over Earth is that we were too primitive until recently. Now, though, more cysts could be made and a takeover could be contemplated.

As for the Peacebringers, they don't seem to use anything Cyst-like. The City of Heroes comic shows the Peacebringer that joined with Horus arriving in a spaceship, but those comics aren't exactly canon (for instance, they show the Nova form as the Kheld native form.)

Being energy, they can survive in space (see references to "longing for space" in various arcs.) And they are probably only limited by physics to what speed they can attain. Given the nearest star other than the sun is 4.2 light years away... well, it's all up to someone to get creative.

"Not Really Kheldians" - Galaxies, Quantums, and Voids (Oh my.)

Let's break these into three levels:

Quantums are nothing more than your average badguy who is armed with a Quantum Array gun. These smack Kheldians rather hard, but other than that, they're just a thug.

Galaxy troops are soldiers who have been infused with Nictus fragments ("pieces" of dying or weakened Nictus, though it seems healthy ones can create them too.) They are given some Warshade-like attacks (such as Ebon Bolt and Gravimetric Snare.) Not all of them are volunteers. (Moonfire TF)

Void Hunter mercenaries are the real baddies, as far as Kheldians are concerned. They're infused with far more Nictus fragments which have been modified with Quantum energy and are out hunting Khelds. They have a Quantum Array gun, as well as additional Nictus damage when in melee that affects the Kheldian inside the host. Their altered fragments provide them with energy resistance, instead of the attacks the Galaxy troops get.
***Spoiler*** Arakhn's in charge of the Void Hunter mercenaries, though Requiem's secretly been sending "loyalists" to undergo the process. (Shadow Science.)

Galaxy troops can opt to go for a "full conversion" after a while to a full Nictus - most likely, given other in game comments, because the shards integrate more fully into the host, get stronger, and keep making the suggestion (plus the "longing for space" that's mentioned.) It's mentioned in a story arc that the conversion rate for Galaxy troops to full Nictus is reaching 40%.

Two other types of creatures come up in conversations about these - War Wolves and Vampyrii. Failed Galaxy conversions can create War Wolves, though there is also some seperate process geared specifically towards making them. Vampyrii are made in a completely seperate process that has nothing to do with Nictus shards or Kheldians at all.

*** Spoiler *** There is a portion of the Kheldian story arcs that has you dealing with "shadow" enemies - Shadow freaks, Shadow vampyrii and the like. These are Freaks and Vampyrii that have been infused with Nictus fragments. Nosferatu himself was considering it. But the fragments have NOTHING to do with the original creation of Vampyrii.

Kheldians making Kheldians
We don't know how Khelds reproduce. Nictus, however, have a means apparently available to them (hinted at in the Galaxy soldier section.) In order to make a Galaxy soldier, N-fragments ("pieces" of a Nictus) are implanted. We don't know how many pieces it takes, or how many you can get from a dying Nictus. 40% of those troops (at this point) opt to become full nictus. If you can get more than one set of shards from a Nictus - and given there's a bit about creating them from healthy Nictus, as well - you can have multiple Nictus created from one. How much of the original Nictus personality remains is unknown.

In-game, the Peacebringers seem surprised by this, so they most likely have some other means available to them.

We don't know of "native" Kheld gender. The hosts obviously have gender, but native Khelds - unknown.

So you want to be a Kheldian...

Well, first things first, get a toon to 50. There's nothing definite about "can I delete the 50 afterward" at this point - in general, it's considered to be better safe than sorry, and not delete it.

Warshades, being the scientifically changed "rebel" Nictus, have a Science origin.
Peacebringers are Natural. As for how they play - well, browse the Kheld forum to get 50 different answers.

Of course, part of the fun is naming your character. There are no hard-and-fast rules about Kheldian naming. Everything I thought I found for Peacebringers had some exception. I THOUGHT the name would be "solar object + light reference" but that's broken by Sunstorm, Moonbow and Freeflight... so go nuts. Warshades SEEM to have a "shadow" reference to them - but people seem to go that way (shadow/dark) with them as it is, given their dark coloration in-form.

The names, by the way, are the names of the joined beings. Shadowstar's daughter Lilian is slated to become "the new" Shadowstar, so it's an inherited name or title.

Native Kheldian names? We know of some - Altered Umbra, Perhelion, and Dirge of Entropy. The best "explanation" for these names is it's the best fit our minds and language can come up with for Kheldian names. They are, after all, energy beings.

Some names from within the game:
Peacebringer:Sunstorm (Kheld named Perhelion,) Freeflight, Moonfire, Coldstar, Fullalbedo, Moonbow, Brightshift
Warshade:Shadowstar, Shadowcatcher(Nictus named Altered Umbra)
Nictus: Requiem (Nictus named Dirge of Entropy,) Arakhn

So just pick something that sounds good to you.

Other bits and pieces, speculation and references

Don't take any of the below as canon. It's just loose speculation or interesting tidbits.

- Requiem is called Science Lord in the original COH comic. Again, though - not canon. Sounds cool though.

- Earth was either not interesting enough, not advanced enough, or not needed for takeover earlier. Given "recent" advances (Nictus takeover map = 70 years old, Industral Revolution = 1800s, now up to nuclear power, quantum physics, and space travel) we may have just gotten VERY interesting or much more useful. Nictus may even be (in game, obviously) a driving force behind some advances. Nothing in game to back this up other than needing the "right" energy and crystals for a cyst. It's just an interesting choice time-wise.

- The closest star is 4.2 light years away. Unless Peacebringers have hosts that can survive interstellar space, something Cyst-like or can 'hibernate' as well, it would take nearly half a Kheld's natural life to get here (assuming that, as an energy being and having no mass, they could travel at the speed of light.)

- Shadowstar's been mentioned in "ancient egypt," which gives us 2000-5000 years to work with. Board speculation (or bored speculation?) came up with an interesting idea - that Egyptian funeral rites could have been influenced by experience with the Nictus, with the Pyramids as a hiding point for a Cyst. Nothing in game supporting it, but it's an interesting idea to play with. (Fuzun.)

Thanks and credits.
First - obviously, to Cryptic and NCSoft for giving us this world to play in and dig into.

Most of the "in game" quotation was made easier by having to refer to, on my part, as well as being able to go back and read through story arcs.

And a huge thanks to the folks tearing this apart and discussing/debating on the Kheldian forums on the official site. Fuzun for the funeral rites speculation, and Darkboxer for the form 'race' names and biological speculation. Not to mention suggestions and tweaks from Venture, Lunarknight, Mantid... well, many folks in two threads.

You can, if you don't mind spoilers, go to and read through the Moonfire, Sunstorm, Shadowstar and general Kheldian arc for information, as well as the Issue 3 introduction of Kheldians over at the City of Heroes homepage.

"Maybe if we had two cities - one full of villains, the other full of heroes - warring with one another, it might work. But that would be a very different and, in my opinion, very silly game indeed." - Rick Dakan. 8/7/02


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Re: Kheldian Backstory guide 1.0 [Re: Memphis_Bill]
      #4570952 - 01/19/06 10:50 AM

Very nice summation. One point that might make an interesting addition is the very fragile nature of the Peacebringer/Warshade alliance, as evidenced by a few of the early Kheldian story-arcs. The 'internal' politics of the two factions make for interesting character possibilities.

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Re: Kheldian Backstory guide 1.0 [Re: Sogrip]
      #4571149 - 01/19/06 11:09 AM

Very cool, good job.

@Armless Dan

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Re: Kheldian Backstory guide 1.0 [Re: Memphis_Bill]
      #6173387 - 08/08/06 03:54 PM

Not sure of the exact date, and the OP is probably long gone now, but 70 years ago is the time the A-Bomb was being developed to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki...

Either way, great post.

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Re: Kheldian Backstory guide 1.0 [Re: silver193]
      #6225635 - 08/15/06 07:08 PM


Not sure of the exact date, and the OP is probably long gone now, but 70 years ago is the time the A-Bomb was being developed to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki...

Either way, great post.

So maybe they just thought that we'd all kill ourselves so it wasn't worth it?

EDIT: OR, maybe they thought we'd all kill ourselves so they were gonna be ready to take over when it happened, but we-being the stupid blundering humans that we are-didn't manage to kill ourselves so they didn't get their chance. Then of course the PBs came and blew their cover.

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And many other Alts

Edited by TypicalHero (08/15/06 07:10 PM)

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Re: Kheldian Backstory guide 1.0 [Re: Memphis_Bill]
      #6225678 - 08/15/06 07:14 PM

As one of the biggest fans of in-game lore, I have to say, good job.

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Re: Kheldian Backstory guide 1.0 [Re: Oceanborn]
      #6240256 - 08/17/06 12:47 PM

Actually, if a PB can get up to almost light speed, they could theoretically travel tremendous differences if they obey relativity. Even though a photon may take 4.2 years to get from Alpha Centuri to Sol, the photon is the exact same age it left. The same rule could apply to an energy entity as well.

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Re: Kheldian Backstory guide 1.0 [Re: silver193]
      #6240568 - 08/17/06 01:18 PM


Not sure of the exact date, and the OP is probably long gone now, but 70 years ago is the time the A-Bomb was being developed to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki...

Either way, great post.

61 years ago the USA dropped those bombs in those places. 70 years ago the National Socialist Party of Germany was on the Fast Track to takin over the world...

Your Insanity May Vary...hmmmmmmm

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Re: Kheldian Backstory guide 1.0 [Re: DaemonDivinity]
      #6240658 - 08/17/06 01:26 PM

Was searching around for more info on the Nova & Dwarf forms and I came across this, a compelling narration of the Kheldian story. I have no idea what this guy's source is, or whether this is from canon, but it doesn't seem to contradict any of Bill's information and gives much deeper insight into the Kheldian relationships with the Novae and Dwarves - both of whom are apparently now extinct. It's especially interesting to note that the Nova forms seem to be called that because their home planet was destroyed by a nova! Imagine if humanity was wiped out by a plague, but the Kheldians escaped ... maybe a Peacebringer would call their human form Shining Plague.

Anyway, some interesting history there. Will help me a lot in trying to combine my PB's 4 personalities into one cool synergized whole. Wish me luck. And thanks Bill for this great guide.

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Re: Kheldian Backstory guide 1.0 [Re: ICF_Zombra]
      #6243390 - 08/17/06 05:29 PM

I agree. Nice work.
The thing with Kels is that unlike your other heroes they have set origins & some pre-existing back ground. So u r kinda restricted when it comes to make a BG for them.

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