The Secret World
Even with the rise of super powered beings, magic itself remain very poorly known. Centuries of witch hunts, occult lineage rivalries and cultural oppression have lead the magical world to be extremely wary of presenting itself openly even in an age of superheroes and villains. As such the vast majority of humanity is unaware of magic’s existence.
Although magical heroes and villains do exist, they are the exception rather than the norm and often scorned by other magical practitioners as fame hungry fools at best and considered menaces threatening the magical world’s existence with their actions.
High Magic vs Lower Magic
Although magic has always been part of many cultures worldwide and is an element of many religious groups such as neo-pagans, Jewish kabbalists or Shinto sorcerers, true magic is not available to all.
Lower magic is the term applied to those who do not posses the power to perform miraculous feats, requiring lengthy rituals and large covens to achieve the most trivial of magical prowess. High magic —or ‘true’ magic as it is known among elitist— is reserved to the chosen few who may consort with otherworldly beings as easily as they do with other humans or cast spells at the drop of a hand. Only a few thousand true magicians are believed to exist, most of whom remain hidden from view, often shunning meddling in mortal affairs and preferring to keep to their secret world.
As such, Magic is generally not recognized by authorities through the world, with magical heroes and villains being generally mistaken for other types of parahumans. While many know the truth, such as the Legion and certain intelligence branches, few try to reveal the truth.
What differentiate a true magical practitioner with a dabbler is the presence of a power called a mantle. The bearer of a mantle and those connected to it are able to use magic much more easily and with much more power than whole covens of lesser magicians could dream of. The origins of Mantles remain a mystery, often just manifesting at certain times or in answer to magical events, empowering a being to act.
Legacies & Inheritance
Despite the power the bearer of a mantle wields, no being can live forever, no matter how able they are at cheating death. However the power does not need to die with them. Mantles can be passed down one of two ways; apprenticeship or family legacies. In addition to possibly inheriting a mantle, those within the line of succession can wield a lesser version of the powers granted to the bearer.
Apprentices are unrelated sentient beings whom the practitioner teach their art to. However the process is more complicated than merely teaching a student spells and rituals.
The student must first be prepared, a process akin to cult brainwashing where the student is slowly broken until their mind is ready to accept the power to alter reality with their thoughts and beliefs. Once a student has passed that threshold, they must then recover and be mentally mended as to be functional once again. Few students succeed through this process.
Legacies are the other way that powers may be passed down. The children of a mantle bearer (and their children’s children) may develop a link to the mantle. Although sometimes considered the easy way, there are some hurdles.
Most importantly, the child-parent relationship must be deeply and genuinely held. A practitioner who abandoned or sired a child they do not know will not pass down the power to that child. Alternatively, adopted children may become eligible to inherit the power if both parent and child truly are bonded as such.
Although Mantles are one way to wield high magic, some gain a limited ability to wield high magic through the possession of special magical artifacts. Often ancient and mysterious, these items can bond to human beings and grant them a specialized sliver of power. Although often powerful in their own right, Artifact-reliant mystics are often scorned by true practitioners as fakes.
One of the perks magical practitioners is that they may access supernatural senses. Although often called magical sight, the senses manifest in a way appropriate to each person. As such a blind person would perceive magically through sound, touch or another sense they strongly rely on.
Magical senses reveal several things invisible to mundane senses; the nature of magical beings, the presence of spells and enchantments, the interpersonal bonds between beings, the animistic spirits residing within all things and auras.
The Other Worlds
The origins of the realms are not well understood, having existed for all of human recorded history, but also having evolved as humanity did; becoming larger, more complex and more varied. The mutable nature of the realms and its inhabitants following cultural changes suggest that the realms respond to sentient activities and beliefs through the mortal world. Which is evidence as Venusian and Gimelian elements have began sprouting through the different realms in the decades since first contact was established.
The ways are not so much a world of their own as the space between the realms and the mortal world. Composed primarily of various paths twisting between the different other realms. Due to its occult geography and the passages to it scattered both through the mortal and supernatural worlds, the ways are an excellent way to travel quickly. Provided one has a guide who may guide them through the non-euclidean space.
The Netherworld is the realm of sin, corruption and darkness. An amalgam of punitive afterlives, hells and inhospitable places dream by humanity. Demons, devils and all manners of monsters inhabit the twisting depths of the realm.
The opposite of the Netherworld is often called Elysium by eurocentric practicioners. Combining elements from all beliefs about good and peaceful afterlives and idyllic worlds. Angels, saints and similar beings call Elysium their home.
The realm of nature, the Summerlands is a collection of sub realms dedicated to nature, primordial forces and beings as well as the mystical people who live hidden away from humanity. Fairies, sprites, gnomes, goblins and beings of pagan origins hail from the Summerlands.
The Nightmare City
A very young realm, the Nightmare City only began taking its shape within the last two centuries. The city itself is an unending maze of streets and buildings from all areas of the modern and industrial age, perpetually clouded by fog and left in an eternal night. The city is littered with the spectre of wars, oppression and terror. Beings of terror and urban legends spawn from the city, fed by humanity’s nightmares.
The Far Shores
The youngest of the realms, still being in its initial inception, the Far Shores is the only xenoform exclusive realm known. The realm itself is quite small and only partially formed. And so far only consist of a large shore facing a crystalline ocean with a mountainous island. There are however holes breaking up the realm, making exploration difficult.
It is theorized by some practitioners that as Itharii arrived on earth in a large number, their energy was too large to be subsumed by other realms as has happened to Venusian polytheism or the different Gimelian religions.
All things have a spirit, from the smallest grain of sand to continents. Practitioners who know how may interact and manipulate these spirits. Most commonly to gain answers but should they feed the spirit energy they may allow them to act; bribing the spirit within the air to form into a tornado.
For as long as humanity existed there have been tales of monsters, beings, deities or strange people that existed, often hidden from the average person, only revealing themselves on occasion.
There exist an innumerable number of those beings; faes, demons, angels, gnome, gremlins, yokai, oni, vampires. The list goes on and all are different from each others but they all share some common elements. All supernatural beings are bound to act by their nature, not possessing free will. No matter what one tries, a being will never go against its programming. Some beings have simply crumbled to dust or become paralyzed when stuck in a situation that did not allow them any action but to break their nature. Secondly, almost all* supernatural beings are bound to obey the words they have given and may not directly lie. (Although they may omit the truth, give it partially or lie by ignorance) This allows practitioners to pact with them. However should a promise be part of a pact which the practitioner then break, the being’s word becomes void.
*Supernatural beings that rely on altering humans such as vampires or werewolves are not bound to this rule as they are merely parasites which alter the behavior or physiology of a human whom is the one to promise something, not them directly.
Familiars & Fetishes
Familiars and fetishes are created when a supernatural being becomes bonded to a magical practitioner, becoming altered in the process; no longer being forced to obey their nature. The supernatural being however require an anchor to remain in the mortal world. Either an animal body (which results in a familiar) or a specially created inanimate vessel (which results in a fetish.)
The resulting familiar or fetish becomes loyal to its bonded practitioner and typically serves them by protecting them in the other worlds, imparting their occult knowledge and event taking their original forms to defend or aid their master.In exchange a practitioner must respect their familiar/fetish and take care of it; feeding and seeing to the well being of the animal body or maintaining, cleaning, polishing and tending to the vessel that holds the bonded being.
Although any animal may be used for the binding ritual, it must be one that the being will accept being bound into, which can cause problems as few authorities allow individuals to own exotic and dangerous animals. The same rules apply to fetishes, with many places unwelcoming of people carrying strange ornate weapons.
The most popular familiar animals are cats, dogs, rats, mice, small snakes. Common fetish objects include books, masks, weapons or scepters.