Masters of the Aether
Nebulon: Growth Phases
Nebulon have very long lives and age means little to them. What matters to a Nebulon is the growth of one's strength, influenced by how much wisdom and experience they have gained. These phases can be split into five periods in a Nebulon's life.
Generally a Nebulon's current phase can be an indicator of its age, but this isn't always the case. Nebulon advance through phases with experience, not time (although averages are listed here).
Nebulon bodies grow and morph through the life phases. Rarer traits tend to appear in Nebulon who are older and wiser, and sometimes even stranger traits may appear depending on the magics the Nebulon has been exposed to.
"The Phase of Bliss"
Avg. length: 20-60 years
Size: 6-20 ft (2-6m)
Traits: Common Tier
A neona is an infant Nebulon, born in one of the many Nebulon "nurseries" where flocks of adult Nebulon gather once a century. These nurseries are regions in the outer Aetherion where aetherclouds are dense and rich, providing nourishment and protection to these younglings. Neona are wild, energetic, and playful, full of childlike curiosity. They can be impulsive and reckless, sometimes destroying things with their powerful microstars. They are not capable of speech or humanoid forms for the first few years, but they absorb information quickly and build up significant amounts of intelligence as they grow up.
Neona are often cared for by other creatures such as Sylori, who help train and educate them. Only rarely is a baby Nebulon cared for by its parent group, as adult Nebulon tend to be reclusive.
Neona can only teleport short distances, usually to different areas within the nursery of clouds. Some neona do manage to slip away from the safety of the nursery, where they are exposed to both danger and adventure. While they might make unexpected friends and discoveries, a neona needs to be careful of those who would harm or capture it for its power.
"The Phase of Wanderlust"
Avg. length: 80 - 300 years
Size: 20-40ft (6-12m)
Traits: Common or Uncommon Tier
A newly mature Nebulon, called an aetheria, is ready to explore the cosmos on its own. Able to teleport outside the nursery, and with enough built-up intelligence to rival the wisest humans already, they are eager to discover new things in the outside realms.
Despite their wisdom, aetheria are inexperienced and behaviorally a lot like teenagers, and may act impulsively or rashly. They sometimes have a reputation for being cocky and know-it-alls for this reason (but of course, this isn't true for many of them!) Aetheria are the most likely to go on daring adventures and take significant risks, whereas older Nebulon tend to be more reserved. Aetheria are often more social than older Nebulon as well, and like to mingle with creatures from all across the Aetherion.
Aetheria are able to take on a humanoid form, called a "terran form", which lets them walk on land and travel to pearls. This humanoid form appears as a mature adult form, but retains many of the Nebulon's traits such as fins, horns, and microstar.
"The Phase of Grace"
Avg. length: 200 - 800 years
Size: 40-100ft (12-30m)
Traits: Uncommon or Rare Tier
After many years of travel and experiences, Nebulon begin to develop personalities and traits that reflect their worldliness. These mature adults, called gratia, are often kind and patient, and form lifelong friendships with other Nebulon and other creatures. Gratia can sometimes continue to explore and adventure for a long time, but many also choose to find some sort of personal calling or interest. They might also wish to find a home, either making a lair in the outer aether or settling on a certain pearl in their terran forms.
In the later years of this stage, gratia may feel a calling to gather once every hundred years to mate with other Nebulon. These gatherings are a sight to behold, where thousands of these creatures meet in the nurseries of the Aetherion and collectively produce a colorful brood of offspring. Each baby is not the offspring of only two parents: it is collectively created by many, and carries a bit of each Nebulon in them.
Other gratia may decide not to gather. They may choose to remain solitary, or perhaps remain with friends and lovers with whom they feel happy. These Nebulon often work to benefit their communities and worlds, providing wisdom and aid to those in need.
"The Phase of Wisdom"
Avg. length: 800 - 5,000 years
Size: 100-300ft (30-90m)
Traits: Rare Tier
Over many centuries, a Nebulon is able to observe the passage of history before their eyes. They see societies rise and fall, they see friends and loved ones come and go, and they gain a sense for the flow of the universe itself. At this elder life stage - erudita - a Nebulon often directs its search for knowledge both inward and outward.
Erudita can dedicate millennia to these pursuits. Growing their inner strength and arcane knowledge, and traveling to the farthest reaches of the Aetherion, erudita become legendary beings. They may become more reserved and introspective at this age, speaking in archaic or riddle-like ways, and only sharing their knowledge with those they deem worthy.
Other creatures in the Aetherion hear legends of these elder Nebulon and the wealth of secrets they know, and may travel a long way to find the lairs of these great dragons.
"The Phase of Secrets"
Avg. length: 20,000+ years
Size: 300-1000+ft (90-300+m)
Traits: Legendary Tier
Spoken of in myth and legend, the most ancient Nebulon are a rare sight to behold. No one knows why - perhaps fewer Nebulon make it this far, or perhaps these Nebulon prefer not to be seen. Even among Nebulon, these ancient titans - arcania - are desirable for the wisdom they hold.
Arcania are some of the only beings able to travel past the Verge. Their microstars are so dense and powerful that their teleportation can cross the border of Gaia's soul, allowing them access into the Void beyond. Many Nebulon of this age, wishing to know how far the universe truly goes, decide to go on this journey. Most never return, and no one is sure why.
While most arcania prefer solitude, a handful do choose to remain with society. They spend a great deal of time sleeping or meditating in their lairs, but when approached, they just might be willing to share a piece of their knowledge - so long as they learn something in return.