The Pfhor (pronounced fôr) are a technologically advanced alien race of space-faring slavers found within the Marathon series. Prior to the events depicted in Marathon, the existence of the Pfhor was not known to humankind, and their unprovoked attack on the UESC Marathon in 2794 in truth served as the first encounter between the two races. The Pfhor and their various subordinate races are the primary opposition that the player character fights throughout the Marathon Trilogy, though they occupy the position of overarching threat in only the first two games, being replaced by the W'rkncacnter in Marathon Infinity. Despite their heavy presence in the Marathon games, very little about their society outside of their slave-taking tendencies and penchant for aggression is known for certain. Pfhor culture does include some manner of formalized polytheistic religion; the player character at one point visits one of their temples, and the Pfhor vessel hijacked by Durandal, the Sfiera, was so named for their goddess of lighting and passion. The Pfhor military also seems to be composed of a traditional command hierarchy, with lower-ranking foot soldiers being under the command of higher-ranking officers, who in turn follow the orders of their battle strategists. Aside from these and other scant details, the Pfhor are largely a mystery, showing little interest in communicating with outsiders in any manner apart from violence.
Physically, the Pfhor are essentially humanoid, though they are somewhat lanky when compared to the average human. Their skin is a dull grayish color, and all Pfhor are known to have three intensely red eyes adorning their faces. In rare instances, a Pfhor might have more than three eyes, and further variance can be noticed when comparing different Pfhor "clans," which often display distinct physiological traits. In the original game, the Pfhor's signature three eyes were configured in a downward-facing triangle, though this was changed to an upward-facing triangle in later games to avoid what artist Rob McLees called a "circus clown" aesthetic. In general, Pfhor anatomy is well-attuned to environments with low gravity, though they wear specialized suits when operating within a vacuum.
While the Pfhor are known to force those they've dominated into their service, they are not averse to combat themselves, and boast a rather large standing military. So fearsome are they that Durandal characterized their attack on the Marathon as something of a blessing in disguise, saying that had they discovered the Sol system the entire human race would have either been exterminated or enslaved. In total five unique varieties of Pfhor are in evidence in the series, and each is also subdivided into different variants, which can be easily identified by variations of color.
- Minor Melee Fighter (Green)
- Major Melee Fighter (Purple)
- Major Projectile Fighter (Red)
- Major Projectile Fighter (Blue)
- Super Fighter (Gray)
Fighters are the most basic of Pfhor infantry, and are found in great abundance in all three games. Though most Pfhor come with different variants, Fighters display two unique subsets: Melee and Projectile. The former attacks only by physically striking opponents with its staff, while the latter can also project bursts of energy from the crystalline formation at the apex of its weapon. The shift from Minor to Major types brings with it a noticeable increase in toughness, while the Super Fighter, introduced in Marathon Infinity, is unequivocally faster, more aggressive, and harder to kill than all previous types.
- Minor Trooper (Green)
- Major Trooper (Purple)
- Super Trooper (Gray)
Fully outfitted with vacuum suits in order to handle harsh environments with little to no atmosphere, Troopers are slightly less expendable than Fighters, and their weaponry reflects this. All Troopers carry a dual-purpose assault weapon capable of firing normal rounds at an extremely rapid rate as well as special explosive grenade shells whenever necessary. Aside from increased durability, Major Troopers are known to use grenades much more frequently than their Minor counterparts, while the Super Troopers of Marathon Infinity are several times stronger and faster than previous types.
- Minor Hunter (Brown)
- Major Hunter (Green)
- Mother Hunter (Blue)
- Super Hunter (Gray)
Hunters are Pfhor clad in formidable suits of armor that render them extremely resistant to traditional weaponry. Fortunately, alternative armaments such as the Zero-Class Fusion Pistol are extremely effective against them, although dying in this fashion causes a Hunter to explode violently, causing area of effect damage. All Hunters attack with shoulder-mounted plasma artillery, while the tougher Major Hunters fire more shots per volley. Marathon 2 introduces a much larger and stronger "Mother" Hunter, and finally, Marathon Infinity introduces the Super Hunter, whose projectiles have tracking properties.
- Minor Enforcer (Blue)
- Major Enforcer (Green)
- Super Enforcer (Gray)
Found mostly aboard actual Pfhor ships, the Enforcer keeps order amongst the ranks, doing so with the supremely deadly Alien Weapon. It is the only Pfhor whose weapon can be picked up and used after death, and due to property changes, the nature of its attack differs significantly in the transition from Marathon to Marathon 2. In Marathon, the Alien Weapon is essentially a high-powered assault rifle, while from Marathon 2 onward it releases fiery orbs in multiple directions. Major Enforcers, as expected, are more durable than Minor ones, and it is possible in Marathon Infinity to encounter a third type as well.
- Standard Juggernaut (Gray)
- Super Juggernaut (Brown)
Juggernauts are massive flying behemoths employed by the Pfhor when only the utmost in firepower will do. With two heavy machine guns called N-Cannons and two heat-seeking Warpeado launchers, they are endowed with enough lethal force to handle almost any opposition. Upon being shot down, Juggernauts will crash to the ground in a blinding flash of light, killing any unfortunate creature that happens to be nearby. In Marathon 2 and beyond, a second Super Juggernaut may at times be encountered, with this version being even better shielded than the Standard variety.
During their various military campaigns the Pfhor have been known to bring with them additional creatures that are not Pfhor themselves, but rather species that have been either recruited or coerced into their service. While some of these species may amount to little more than trained animals, others are most certainly intelligent life forms. Due to the Pfhor's belligerent propensities and their reputation for keeping slaves, it can be reasonably assumed that most of the Pfhor's subservient races did not come to be in their servile positions through peaceable circumstances.
|Utilized during the Pfhor attack on the UESC Marathon, the massive Drinniol "Hulks" are extremely tall and very muscular, possessing immense appetites and nonexistent body fat. Through the limited human observation that could be afforded during the Marathon's defense, the Drinniol have been noted to display at least a basic level of intelligence, as they are able to identify themselves as Drinniol. Despite this, their behavior is mostly brutish, and Hulks tend to forgo weaponry in battle in favor of simply beating their foes into submission with their sizable arms. It is not known how the Drinniol came to be affiliated with the Pfhor, though they are not seen with them during the Lh'owon offensive depicted in later games.|
|Originally native to the Lh'owon system, the S'pht are one of the Pfhor's most intelligent slave races, and in fact, with their technical expertise, they form a crucial operating component in most Pfhor vessels. It was this reliance on the S'pht that largely unraveled the Marathon offensive, as Durandal and the player character were able to destroy the Pfhor's cyborg control organism, thus allowing the S'pht to rebel against their captors. Though they appear to be of a roughly humanoid size and shape, their appearance is somewhat deceiving, as their robes hide the fact that they levitate several feet above the ground. They are furthermore partially cybernetic, leaving their actual organic composition to represent a relatively small part of the whole.|
LookerBrought along with the Pfhor during the Marathon assault, Lookers are a bug-like species with red eyes akin to those of their masters. Whether this is coincidental or a sign that Lookers are more closely tied to the Pfhor than other species is not known. There is very little to indicate that Lookers are intelligent in any traditional sense, and it is most likely that they are viewed by the Pfhor as expendable due to the nature of their kamikaze attacks. For unknown reasons, Lookers occasionally appear in partially invisible forms.
WaspLike Lookers, Wasps are red-eyed and insectoid, and do not betray any outward signs of intelligence. They appeared in great numbers shortly following the initial Marathon assault, and being individually frail, they tend to swarm their targets and overwhelm them with their poisonous projectile attacks. Along with the similarly expendable Lookers, it can be reasonably deduced that Wasps are a manner of shock troop that allow the Pfhor to distract and weaken their opposition before sending in more significant military detachments.
In addition to assimilating other races into their war efforts, the Pfhor are creative enough and possessed of enough technical know-how to construct various automatons in order to serve their purposes. These assorted machines, hybrids, and artificial life forms appear in a number of guises, though they are all unified in their purpose of augmenting the Pfhor's strength as they quest for dominance in the galaxy at large. Many of the Pfhor's creations are also quite grisly, incorporating biological components to some degree, further serving to illustrate their utter disregard for other species.
SimulacrumBuilt to infiltrate human defenses and attack when they are most vulnerable, Simulacrums are quite simply bombs in human form. They are rough approximations of actual human anatomy, with their various inaccuracies including a lack of genitalia, two-toed feet, hideously malformed teeth and unnatural red eyes. Strict recreation of the human form was evidently not necessary for the Pfhor to achieve their goals, however, as Simulacrums are only meant to fool their prey long enough for them to get within detonation range. By the time most humans realize that they have been deceived, it is already too late.
CyborgThe Pfhor have demonstrated over time the ability to create cyborg creatures to suit a number of their needs. One such cyborg was used by the Pfhor to remotely direct the similarly cybernetic S'pht, thus holding them in thrall to their masters over great distances. Though this cyborg was destroyed, setting off a chain of events that led to the S'pht's freedom, the Pfhor still field cyborgs for other purposes. First seen in the Lh'owon offensive, a second form of cyborg is used by the Pfhor for strictly offensive purposes. This construct is recognized by its faceless humanoid torso and tank-like treads, and is fitted to project different types of ordinance from its arm-mounted grenade launchers.
DroneA relatively simplistic automated defense drone, the Pfhor Drone can be immediately recognized as a Pfhor creation due to its three red ocular receptors, which mimic the upward-facing triangular eye configuration of its creators. Usually seen as passive defensive measures rather than active assault units, Drones are somewhat fragile and not especially deadly, and it is likely that they were never meant for use outside of keeping order in areas already firmly under Pfhor control.