It's a stupid acronym. Their little code. Stands for 'No Obligations, Rules, or Authority'.
A vigilante group created by Snow, they strive to live a life of freedom and independence. After the fall of Cocoon, they moved to Gran Pulse with the people of Bodhum and created a new town—New Bodhum. They taught the former Cocoon residents how to live off the land and fend for themselves, and the townspeople greatly rely on them.
NORA is a resistance group to the Sanctum in Final Fantasy XIII, originally a neighborhood watch group in Bodhum. The group reappears in Final Fantasy XIII-2. The group's symbol is a cat. NORA has a central role in Final Fantasy XIII Side Story: A Dreaming Cocoon Falls into the Dawn that tells what happened to them between the time they were last seen in the Hanging Edge, and when the party meets them in Eden in the 12th chapter of Final Fantasy XIII.
The paramilitary organization known as NORA is a group composed of like-minded youths, assembled by Snow and self-funded by the operation of a seaside café in Bodhum.
Functioning as a neighborhood watch of sorts, NORA members patrol the vicinity of Bodhum for trouble. Most often, "trouble" consists of encroachment by dangerous forms of wildlife.
NORA had never openly acted out against the Sanctum prior to the Purge, and because of this, the military had been content to turn a blind eye to the group's activities.
NORA is a vigilante group of young do-gooders from the Cocoon town of Bodhum. No strangers to fending for themselves, the group went on to found the settlement of New Bodhum in the harsh environment of Pulse.
NORA consists of four core members: the intimidating Gadot, Snow's right-hand man; the amiable mood maker, Yuj; the mechanical genius, Maqui; and the NORA House resident chef, Lebreau.
Snow, NORA's founding member, is presently away from New Bodhum.
The team was originally founded by a group of youths from Bodhum, a port city at the outskirts of Cocoon, under Snow Villiers. The other members are Gadot, Lebreau, Maqui, and Yuj. They manage operations from a beach bar initially working to battle the monsters around the city.
The Sanctum deems the village population contaminated by Pulse and carries out a mass-Purging, provoking NORA to fight back. NORA leads the resistance against PSICOM forces and saves many Purgees, but the group's leader, Snow Villiers, has his eyes on the Pulse Vestige where his fiancée Serah Farron is held captive. Snow gathers volunteers from among the Purgees to join the fight and provides them with firearms, but the bridge where his group is stationed is blown apart by PSICOM. After failing to save a woman who asks him to get her son home, Snow returns to the rest of NORA alone and sets out to the Pulse Vestige on an aerobike.
The details on how the rest of NORA escape the Hanging Edge is unknown, but much later when Eden is under attack from Pulsian monsters they run into Snow and his friends. Snow is now a l'Cie bent on defying his Focus, and NORA scold him for having abandoned them and tell him they will support him no matter if he has become a l'Cie. Snow tasks NORA with evacuating the citizens and sets off to the heart of Eden. When Cocoon falls from the sky and Ragnarok rises up to save it by crystallizing it and building a crystal pillar to support the structure above Gran Pulse, the city of Eden crashes to Bodhum and is destroyed, but NORA are spared, presumably having evacuated before the event.
Aoede is an aspiring journalist questions the veracity of news in Cocoon. When the Sanctum announces the discovery of a Pulse fal'Cie within a vestige and initiates the Purge Aoede theorizes it is but was an elaborate ploy by the Sanctum to instill more fear of Pulse into the populace and maintain control over Cocoon. Believing that no one would be Purged, she fits herself with hidden cameras, sneaks into Bodhum, and boards a Purge train, hoping to make a documentary that would boost her reputation as a reporter.
When the train comes to a halt at the Hanging Edge Aoede discovers the Sanctum never intended to exile the Purgees, but to take the supposedly tainted civilians to the restricted area and enact a concealed genocide. Realizing her foolishness for plunging herself into the situation, Aoede can only stand in a daze and watch the carnage. An attack vessel locks on to her but she is moved out of the way before the pilot fires and she escapes with her saviors, the members of NORA. Guided by NORA, Aoede and other surviving Purgees escape the battlefield and take refuge in a crevice in the ground. After breaking through PSICOM's defenses, Aoede, NORA, and a portion of the surviving Purgees escape the Hanging Edge and hide inside an ancient Pulsian building that was inserted between the layers of Cocoon's outer shell during its construction, a large vestige that "shouldn't" exist and the perfect place for the Purge survivors to lay low and wait out the army's search efforts. Gadot leads a combat team to ensure everyone's safety and food and supplies are sent through Lenora's Garage, a shop maintained by another NORA member, Maqui.
Aoede continues to record everything as the footage could persuade the people of Cocoon to turn against the Sanctum and the fal'Cie. She believes NORA's way of life, refusing the charity of the fal'Cie and looking after themselves, would be the key to help guide the people into a new era as they have been able to protect people and provide for them by using their own smarts and resources. By hacking the Sanctum's information channels through his own network, Maqui taps into a live feed and projects a hologram of a broadcast from Palumpolum being captured by a military surveillance camera that depicts a plaza turned into a war zone as a pillar of ice conjured by magic freezes everything and a Pulse l'Cie. NORA recognizes the l'Cie as their leader Snow Villiers. Having been worried about Snow since the Pulse Vestige plummeted into Lake Bresha, the news of his survival brings relief to NORA. Aoede sees all that matters to them is that Snow is alive, not that he was made a l'Cie.
The footage from Palumpolum cuts off and NORA begins planning their next step as Snow's appearance was the sign they needed. Aoede knows Snow is going to take the fight to the Sanctum and NORA most likely wants to build a resistance movement to help him. As the Sanctum's troops are likely concentrated around Palumpolum, leaving holes in the security around the Hanging Edge, NORA and the refugees would be able to escape. Aoede decides to accompany NORA and capture more footage of their quest. After leaving some instructions with the remaining NORA members, they leave their shelter and set out for Eden, the capital of Cocoon and the Sanctum's seat of power.
After the Catastrophe, many of the former Cocoon citizens settle on Gran Pulse. NORA helps build the coastal town of New Bodhum where they take up residence protecting the town from the hostile Pulsian wildlife. The team is broken up when Snow sets out to look for Serah's sister, Lightning, who disappeared after the Catastrophe, and a year goes by with no word from him. One day, a crystalline meteorite crashes on the outskirts and mysterious monsters attack the village. Serah finds herself in a paradox and meets a man who claims to bring a message from Lightning, who now resides in Valhalla. NORA remain skeptical of the man's claims to hail from the distant future, and confront him, but Noel stands his ground. After revealing the meteorite is a Time Gate, NORA finally believe his story, and Noel and Serah set out on their journey through time to find a way to Valhalla and reunite with Snow and Lightning.
Using the Time Gate, Serah and Noel can keep returning to New Bodhum and meet with NORA. The first time they do so Gadot marvels how they had barely left before returning. If Serah and Noel visit New Bodhum 3 AF after opening the Time Gate to Academia 500 AF, NORA says they sense the pair's final battle looms near and wish them the best of luck. As the formation of Nova Chrysalia occurs centuries after NORA members' presumed natural deaths, the group's fate is left unknown.
Like the rest of humanity, the souls of NORA members found their way to the new world where they were reincarnated and established the "Nora House" restaurant. They are visited by a reporter named Aoede who is investigating the stories of people having memories of a past life in another world. Upon her tasting the Nora Special, both the NORA group and Aoede remember their previous meeting on Cocoon when they exposed the Sanctum by airing Purge footage via Maqui hacking the broadcast. Soon after, Lebreau tells Aoede where she can find Serah.
The music that accompany NORA in their appearances are called "The Warpath Home" (帰るための戦い, Kaeru Tameno Tatakai?) played prominently at the Hanging Edge, and "Snow's Theme" that plays whenever Snow leads the party members.
In the Japanese version, the term "Nora" is said to be a play on the Japanese word for "stray cat" (野良猫, noraneko?). This theme is evident in some of the jewelry sported by the cast, including Snow's necklace and Serah's earrings (which both have cats pictured on them). In the English version, NORA is an acronym standing for "No Obligations, Rules, or Authority".
- An adornment of the NORA logo can be obtained in Final Fantasy XIII-2.