Table of Contents
The world is our own, but with a darker layer underneath, a blood of the occult that pulses beneath the sanitary skin of reality, waiting to be explored, immersed in, consumed…
Stigma is inspired by primarily Japanese interpretations of a modern supernatural setting, with exceptions. Inspirations include Fate/Stay Night, Monster Princess, Tsukihime, Demonbane, Hellsing, Cirque du Freak, X/1999, Shadow Hearts, Rental Magica and To Aru Majutsu no Index.
The Stigma of Magic
It has long been said that there is no such thing as a peaceful life among the supernatural. You will fight. You will be hated and hunted. You will band with others like yourself for survival. You will learn and know things that would break lesser people.
This fact has been called The Stigma by those who inhabit this secret world that exists alongside our own. Mages and psychics and hybrids often take a title that goes along the lines of "Stigma of X" such as the current president of the Association of Magecraft Amanda Bellevue, known as the Stigma of the Iron Flame.
Common terms of the secret world
"Knowing the Score" - When someone knows the score it means that one way or another they are privy to the secrets of the supernatural world and are also allowed to have that knowledge.
Mana: Magical energy, the underlying building blocks of magical reality. All forms of life emanate a small amount of mana and it can become trapped in some physical forms and containers, most notably crystals. The earth has an ambient mana field that emanate from leylines, the flows of energy that crisscross the planet's surface. Mana can have a negative, positive or neutral charge.
Neutral Charge Mana: Just mana. Mana with a neutral charge can come from anywhere and be used for anything.
Negatively charged mana: Negatively charged mana has been tainted by sorrow, despair, rage, terror or other negative emotions, emotions that are quite natural but altogether unpleasant to experience. Death energy is a common form of negatively charged mana. Necromancers learn to handle it safely. Negative mana is a powerful source of energy however it can't sustain itself, it needs other sources of mana to run itself, usually this mana comes from life energy.
Positively Charged Mana: Mana that has been imbued with hope, faith, kindness, charity, selflessness and nobility. Sometimes called holy mana. Those who draw their magic from rites of faith often implement positively charged mana as a result. This doesn't mean these people are any more MORAL than anyone else, mind you.
Leylines: Also known as dragon veins, leylines are rivers of mana that flow through the surface of the planet like veins. Places built on leylines and places where leylines intersect have high concentrations of mana.
Wellspring: A place were mana seems to bubble up in great quantities. Mages and Outsiders can draw great power from such places. One such wellspring is Stonehenge, another is the site upon which the Tokyo Tower was built. Wellsprings appear in places were leylines cross.
Phantasm: A physical construct made entirely out of mana, formed through magecraft or supernatural will. A phantasm can be anything from a formed weapon, an illusionary terrain or a projected image.
Outsiders: Outsiders are living beings that come from another reality into our own. Such beings include angels, demons and cthonics.
Fairies and Spirits: A class of supernatural being that exist as representations of nature. They usually slumber but when mana wells up in an area certain trees, bodies of water, mountains and the like will awaken their own spirits to populate the wild places of the world.
Unhallowed Ground: An Unhallow is a place where another reality has burst through into our own, usually an unpleasant one, tainting the flows of mana there.
Hallowed Ground: A place infused with positively-charged mana, usually because of the infuser's strong faith.
Undead: A being that was once alive, or composed of parts that were once alive, and has been animated again purely by action of negative mana. This leads the undead to require other sources of mana to sustain themselves, most often the blood, flesh or fear of the living.
Mystic Channels: The leylines of the body, mystic channels act like veins or circuits, running the mana through the body. Many flares have mutations in their mystic channels that let them use their unique abilities.
Grimoire: A codex, book, tablet pc, palmtop or any other form of conveyance of magical knowledge. More than merely books, grimoires are actually encoded with the techniques and magecraft required for certain spells. Some grimoires are so imbued with magical power that they awaken their own spirits and can help their owners with their magic. Some even take on human forms!
True Faith: Faith in another power other than your own that is so strong it gives you control over mana in accordance with that faith. This does not have to be a religious faith, it is faith and belief in anything that is strong enough. It must be combined, however, with a certainty that you can do miracles because of your faith either from magical study or ritual training.
Mystic Entities and Supernatural Powers
The different forms of supernatural power inform what Power Source you should pick. Think about where your power comes from given your form of magic.
Mages, sorcerers, priests, shamans, etc.
The most common form of supernatural talent by far, the many permutations of mystical power fit under the umbrella term of magecraft. Spells, hexes, conjurations, summonings, necromancy, evocation, invocation and more all fit under the term Magecraft. Mages, by and large, come from families that have been learning magic for hundreds if not thousands of years and pass down the secrets of their family's arts to their children. Others have talent but don't come from families, instead being hand-selected by mages who find them and induct them into the secret world.
Whether a special family magic, a cultural system or religious rites, mages gain access to powers for crafting and projecting pure mana. They do this generally through both a freeform, personalized act of the will and codified gestures and incantations from their particular magical discipline. This mix of rigid magical ritual and free, chaotic willfulness is very confusing to hold onto, making magical instruction from a young age almost a requirement to master it. Mana projection allows the user to edit reality in specific ways to achieve specific effects, which sounds like an incredible power and it is. However mages must specialize in what their magic is capable of lest they stretch their mana too thin and break their minds under the strain.
Mages all share certain advantages above and beyond their individual styles of magic and the crafting and casting of mana. First, the mastery and absorption of mana offers a mage much longer lives, most able to live for several hundred years without any sort of magical assistance! Second is the ability to see beings attuned to supernatural realms, spirits and ghosts for instance that are normally invisible to mortal eyes.
Seekers of faith, balance, inner peace and self-discovery unlock the power of their chakras and become capable of using magic not through magecraft but through the training of their minds and bodies. They usually focus their powers inward in order to bring forth amazing feats of martial arts and mental skill. There are two main camps of ki master, typically those that are devoted to the body and those that are devoted to the mind. Ki masters seldom neglect either one, but the power of ki is most efficient when channeled one way. Those who channel their ki into the mind become known as psionics and gain access to powerful psychic talents, especially telekinesis, clairvoyance and telepathy. Many psionics don't even realize that their studies and medidations are bringing them closer to psionic awakening until they perform their first talent.
Many psionics awaken their powers through intense concentration in intellectual pursuits, this becoming a sort of meditation that unlocks the chakra of the body, specifically the Anja, or third eye, chakra. The other side of the ki master coin is the wulin, or monk, path. Wulin typically come from monastic and ascetic lifestyles where purity of spirit and mind are channeled into strength and training of the body. The body's channels open to accept this ki and use it to perform amazing feast of physical prowess like strength and agility to rival any vampire, fists that swing with such force they displace air in explosive vacuum shots and other even less probable feats that are available to the enlightened.
Ki masters, like mages, have greatly prolonged lifespans thanks to their master of their own ki. They can't see the supernatural at will like mages, but can become incredible natural sers.
Human psychics and possessors of magical abilities of unexplainable origin, flares are called such because of the way they appear to those with magic sight when their powers manifest for the first time, usually when they are still very young, as a massive flare of colored energy. Most flares manifest between 12 and 16, making them all fairly young when they start to become noticed. They are most often psychic talents, but stranger powers do exist among their ranks and some awaken so powerful that they cause much destruction and death before they are finally reigned in, some even driven mad by the revelation of their powers. Flares are sometimes looked down upon by 'natural mages' for their unpredictable natures and the way they were given their powers, rather than earning them.
Outsiders describe demons, angels, eldritch horrors and cthonic beings that exist in realms that are not our own and come to earth for one reason or another. Earth is an attractive place for many Outsiders for many reasons, either because it is a reprieve from the horror of their homeland or because it is simply somewhere new and interesting, some crave feeding on humans and still others simply find them very interesting. Outsiders cannot exist on earth by themselves for long, they need a constant flow of mana in order to live and they receive this usually in one of two ways. First, summoners can contract Outsiders to themselves, sharing their magical energies with them. Second, they can become predatory and feed off of mana that comes from living beings. The tales of soul-devouring demons, life-stealing succubi and angels that exhaust their charges with religious fervor come from this hunger for mana. The strongest source of mana in the world is the soul, after all.
Outsider magic is unique in that rather than manipulating existing laws of physics and reality it imposes the laws and effects of another reality on our own. The light of an angel does not burn with photovoltaic heat but with JUSTICE. The fire of a demon corrupts the soul and withers the flesh. The darkness of an outer horror siphons the relevance from targets until they no longer exist. This magic is powerful and terrible and often quite seductive, the Lex Magica has serious strictures against its misuse.
Also known as youma, devils and spirits of sin. Demons come from the 'lower planes' that represent instinct, carnality, unbridled power and chaos. They tend to draw upon the darkest impulses of sentient beings as well as the most simple and powerful instincts that exist such as hunger, lust and anger. Demons are passionate beings with the least of them being nearly mindless beasts and the greatest being skilled tempters and manipulators. The planes they inhabit tend to be dangerous but also wild and free, the terrifying power they offer is a temptation for many summoners who end up tainting themselves with the darkness of the lower planes, become amoral creatures.
Also known as guidance spirits or spirits of man, Celestials come from the 'higher planes' that represent consciousness and thought, philosophy and order. The archetypical celestial is, of course, the angel, a being born of virtue and light. Celestials appear to be born from many religions and philosophies, and so the question of 'which reglion is correct' remains forever out of the grasp of even the most powerful of wizards.
Also known as Old Ones, Things and The Alien. Cthonics are outsiders of immense power and equal mystery, appearing to be so old and alien that humanity is barely a blip on their radar. Some believe they are the gods and spirits of alien realms so far removed from how our own reality works that their very existence inspires madness, other say that they are the twisted remains of civilizations that once inhabited earth long before humanity existed. To those that traffic with them and have grown used to (or are already broken by) the insanity they carry with them like a plague they are simply cosmic entities, alien to humanity but not impossible to deal with.
Non human or formerly human entities that are nonetheless native to our plane of existence. Monsters run the gamut from spirits to ghosts to vampires to werewolves. They are inherently supernatural but unlike Outsiders they belong to our planet. They have a place here. They are, though, still inhuman and that can cause problems.
Werebeasts are those who are born with a bloodline connecting themselves to one of the great animal spirits. This mixed beast and human blood gives them not only enhanced strength, reflexes and senses in their human form but also the ability to transform into an animal and hybrid beastman form, not to mention access to spirit magics. No matter the form of animal spirit that lies in the blood, weres all share the same weaknesses. First, the weakness to silver. Even pressing it against their skin burns them and prevents them from transforming. Second, electricity. Electricity running through the body forces them to downshift to human form. Third, the moon. The spirit-blooded lines of werefolk are blessed by the moon, but her power is as mercurial and ever-changing as she herself and the great influx of power that werefolk feel during the full moon forces them to transform into their hybrid beastman shape and makes them emotional, volatile and dangerous. During the new moon they cannot transform at all.
Werewolves are the most common werebeast, legend has it that like dogs are man's best friend, wolves were the original animal spirits that human shamans were able to commune with. Over the long millennium since those ancient days many wolf-blooded lines have appeared, blessed with the strength, cunning and tight bonds of the pack of the great silver wolf spirit. Werewolves are highly protective and draw upon spiritual powers of strength, hunting, community and nature. Their powerfully muscled hybrid forms, majestic in the moonlight, are well known indeed.
Ghosts are often obsessed with their lives from before they were dead and they live a twilight existence, sometimes trying to connect to the world and sometimes trapped in a cycle they can't escape from, reliving the moments of their deaths. Ghosts are connected to tethers, people, places and objects that help to sustain their essence, binding them to those places. As long as those tethers exist, they can replenish their own mana. Some ghosts enjoy supplementing this meager fare with strong emotions from the living, especially fear. Ghosts that unlive a long time can become hateful and spiteful and transform into beings known as Spectres that feed on the life forces of the living in order to drag out their own twisted etheric existences, ripping themselves from their tethers to better torment the living.
Zombies are undead corpses, walking though they are no longer alive. They have no mind or soul and are essentially tools for necromancers, or perhaps terrible accidents of biology or magic that cause them to rise unheeded. They come in varieties of strength based on the skill of their animation, the condition of the body, any modifications made to them, etc. Whether a dessicated wasting corpse eager to devour your flesh or a mountainous hulk of perfectly obedient undead muscle, zombies are not to be underestimated, especially in groups. Zombies do not require flesh to sustain themselves, they simply crave it.
Revenants are somewhat like the more mindless zombies, being embodied walking dead bound to their corpse, but revenants retain their souls. Revenants can occur naturally when a human being is murdered or dies young in an accident, however they can also be brought back to life in the closest semblance to resurrection as exists in the world. Revenants retain the skills and intelligence they had from their former life, though they may possess holes in their memory due to the trauma of reanimation. Revenants most often rise due to a need to correct some sort of terrible wrong done to them in life, however correcting this wrong does not guarantee the revenant will lay to rest once more, in fact most do not. Revenants can linger for centuries, though theirs is as lonely an existence as ghosts for the most part. Revenants are much more obviously the walking dead than Vampires, for instance, and they find it terribly difficult to blend in without assistance. Revenants sustain themselves through devouring flesh, though it need not be human or living, it only must be raw.
Vampires are another sort of undead. Vampires not only retain their bodies and souls but also their minds. They have a wide array of supernatural capabilities and physical superiority but these factors are transferred through the blood from creator to progeny when they drain the blood from them then feed them some of their blood to animate them as a vampire. This is the beginning of the vampiric unlife cycle, which goes through the following three stages. Each stage goes forward based solely on the willpower of the one who was turned, some unfortunates will never evolve.
Strigoi: Once someone rises from the grave as one of the vampiric undead they come back as a bestial creature of death. They only know two things: blood hunger and the commands of their creator. Some of the more unscrupulous and twisted vampire lords will turn large groups of people with the hopes that many of them will stay Strigoi so they can cultivate a force of mindlessly loyal animals to drive before them against their enemies. The strigoi stage usually lasts for several weeks but can be as short as a span of days if the subject is willful enough. There is a percentage of people who will never move past this stage at all, death refusing to give them up any further.
Serf: Within a few weeks the strigoi will fall into a short inactive state as the subject's mind and soul re-align with their awakened body. When they awaken they will be the person they used to be before being turned. A Vampire Serf is limited in their powers and their freedoms. They have free will, but it can be taken away by a word from the one that created them, to whom they are beholden. Serfs can only access powers that their master possesses and in weaker measures, along with the universal vampire abilities of enhanced physical capabilities and the power to summon forth claws to defend themselves with. Serfs also can't create any other vampires. Serfs typically live either in the service of or on the run from their masters. Most vampires remain a serf for the rest of their unlives, the minority of them have enough will to within a period of years to decades undertake a transformation into the highest form of vampire.
Noble: When a serf vampire evolves they are compelled to find a sunless place they can hide themselves, such as a cellar or deep cave, and they bind themselves to a wall within a crystal chrysalis spun from their own cast off flesh. This glittering cocoon is nearly indestructible except for the light of the sun fully cast on it, a powerful defense for the transforming undead within. Three nights later the chrysalis will crack, shatter and burst forth, revealing the new Vampire Noble. They are physically idealized according to their own subconscious wishes, eternally in the shape they most desire to possess. The tales of Vampires being both unearthly beautiful and utterly terrifying come from this process. They are no longer beholden to their creator and regain full independence, they also can begin to expand their powers through training and experimentation and add their own unique abilities to their bloodline.
Once a vampire is a noble other vampire nobles will actually acknowledge them and accept them as an equal. Vampire nobles are ranked in power from this point on based on a title they are given. The title structure goes as follows in order of ascending power: Knight/Dame - Baron/Baroness - Viscount/Viscountess - Count/Countess - Marquis/Marchess - Duke/Duchess - Prince/Princess - King/Queen. Note that a vampire noble's power title might be different from any landed mortal noble titles they might have. (The Count Vlad Tepes Dracula, for instance, is surely at Vampire King level.) Other monsters tend not to call vampires vampires, they simply call them the nobility.
Vampires have no centralized system of government, but the vampires in an area will have deference for the highest ranked noble in the area. as a race, vampires instead follow the ways of the Alliance of Shades, a society for paranormal and undead entities that helps them to blend in with humanity and gives them political clout and visibility amongst the mages and other supernaturals of the world.
All Vampires are physically superior to humans and have access to an offensive gift, a pseudo-magical set of claws made of both shadow and bone that appear only when the vampire makes an attack with them. Vampire Serfs can access the unique powers of their masters on top of these abilities. Vampire Nobles retain their powers from their serf stage and on top of that can begin to focus their attentions towards creating their own powers, these powers can vary quite largely but generally lie within the vampiric spheres of influence of the night, life and death, darkness, predators, blood, the wild and the mind.
All vampires invariably share the same weaknesses. The sun is the vampire's worst enemy. Not only does daylight suppress all of their powers, it will scald, smoulder and then sear them to death over a period of minutes. Older vampires and less well fed vampires burn quicker, the more well fed the slower the vampire will be to sear to ash. Symbols of true faith blessed or wielded by the truly faithful can repel and burn them and prevent them from using their powers in a radius around the faithful. Garlands of garlic, lines of sanctified ashes, rivulets of holy water, hazes of blessed incense or scattered wild mountain rose petals can create lines that vampires cannot cross. Destruction of the heart or head can destroy the vampire completely, a wooden stake isn't necessary.
All vampires, of course, share the simple need to feed. They must take mana from living beings, this is most commonly done by drinking blood. The bite of a vampire is masked by a pall of pleasure that anesthetizes their victim from the pain and shock of blood loss and flesh being pierced the wounds from their bite close to leave little trace of their feeding afterwards. Some vampires learn other ways to feed such as by drinking breath or like succubi through sex. No matter the refinement of their feeding technique a vampire always threatens the life of those they feed from, only their own self-control and moderation ensure they leave their donor alive afterwards.
Vampires nowadays can operate in the daytime with the usage of special, but rare, artifact rings that shield them from the sun's harmful effects. A cheaper but more limited and troublesome alternative is an alchemical gel that insulates their skin with an invisible layer of shadow for 8 hour stretches, which must be applied to the entire body, including areas covered in clothing.
Half-Demons: Humans are interbreedable with many different class of outsider creature, most notably demons. Half-demons and those with lesser concentrations of Demonic blood usually exhibit minor physical alterations such as abnormalities in eye color, vestigial wings or tails and the like. They they use their powers these traits usually blossom to full prominence for a period of time before dying down again, making it fairly easy for half-demons to blend in to society. Access to the powers of Outsiders can have damaging effects on the human half's psyche, however, and so many half-demons are somewhat unstable psychologically, some prone to paranoia, others to fits of rage where their powers wax uncontrollable, others are slave to their passions like their demonic ancestor. The kind of Outsider it was has a large impact on what powers the hybrid exhibits but many are physically superior as a general rule.
Dhampyr: Vampires cannot have children naturally in the biological way, but half-vampires can occur when a vampire gives a living human their blood intravenously. Some humans do not have the proper will to take on the power of the half-vampire and become ghuls instead, incomplete undead who hunger for flesh (not necessarily human) and require it to survive but are not mindless like zombies, though they must obey their vampire masters. Some, though, instead manage to become full half-vampires: dhampir. Dhampir have a thirst for blood they must suppress but do not need it to survive, rather it is like an addiction they have to struggle with. They are still considered alive and must eat normal food, breathe, drink water and all of that, they also can have children normally. They have around one-third to one-half of the power of a full vampire, though none of their other weaknesses. Dhampir age very slowly, at about 1 year to every three years, compared to normal humans. The state of being a half-vampire is still a temporary one, just not as temporary as being a human! Being a Dhampir is an inherently transitory state, in no less than 20 to 30 years the Dhampir will succumb to the Vampire blood and become a Serf vampire. When a dhampir dies they will rise in three nights as a fully fledged Serf-level vampire provided they aren't buried in hallowed ground, immolated or beheaded. They also must have been a dhampir for a period of several years first, otherwise they become strigoi and must work back to sentience. As dhampir never technically have a master they are not beholden to anyone as other serfs are. They can undergo the noble metamorphosis just like any other vampire.
The Spirit World
The invisible, living world of spirits and fairies that lies just beyond the sight of mortal beings. Magicians, psychics and the spiritually sensitive can sometimes glimpse past the veil to this magical world and see the spirits of man and nature that congregate therein and sometimes cross over to experience the real world. In the wildest places the veil is the most thin and animal spirits or fae can enter our realm freely and sometimes create their own villages and secret homes, from here they can even use their powers to blend in with humanity and live amongst us. They have been doing so for thousands of years.
The Dead Spheres
The dead spheres make up the numerous underworlds of myth, each lorded over by incomprehensibly ancient entities. Some are under the auspices of a particular deity, others are the domains of ancient and powerful ancestor ghosts. They are, essentially, waiting rooms for those too detached from the living to remain on earth but not yet ready to pass on entirely. Where the soul goes after true death is unknown, but most spend some time lingering in the underworld before moving on to the afterlife.
The rulers of the dead spheres answer to a single entity who is above them all. The Reaper, Death Himself.
The lower planes of instinct, carnality, chaos and freedom. Hell dimensions house the likes of demonkind and come in many permutations, some of flame and stone, some of ice and darkness, some that are primal wilds others that are twisted mirror cities or brass and flesh. The infernal planes offer much power, magic and treasure but also threaten to corrupt the souls of the unwary and twist them into beings as amoral and instinctive as the demons themselves.
The higher planes of consciousness, thought, philosophy and order. Celestial planes come in as many permutations as there are religions to model them, inhabited by spirits and angels in the shapes of ancestral mortal beings. Heavenly dimensions are houses of virtue and law, of guidance and faith. They are rigidly structured, often beautiful but also fraught with the peril of breaking the rules and being brought to swift justice. They don't offer the same temptations to mages that the lower planes do because as much power and safety the celestial planes offer, they also demand oath and obligation in return for that power.
The further away from earth one wanders when exploring the many dimensions, the less and less influenced by mortal spirituality and consciousness the planes become, giving glimpses of truly primal spiritual existence with no virtue, vice or thought. It is said that if we were ever to meet truly alien beings from our universe they would carry with them their own spiritual baggage we would have to interact with and perhaps war against, much as the young and old gods of ancient tribes went to war when their human counterparts did. (Today, of course, more tolerance is exercised in the celestial planes.)
The Lex Magica
The supernatural world operates under a set of secret laws that regulate the more dangerous aspects of paranormal life. Some of these 'laws' are merely things that it has been observed that magic cannot do and thus could be dangerous to pursue. The Lex Magica has little to do with conventional morality, only holding the secret world to a series of mystical strictures.
When someone breaks the Lex Magica one of the societies, usually their own or TAMS if they do not belong to a society, passes judgement and levies punishment. Special prisons exist for housing magical criminals. Some are subject instead to a Sealing Decree and have their magic suppressed for a period of time. The most heinous criminals are hunted relentlessly by every major group until they are put to death.
The actual body of the Lex Magica is as extensive as mortal law, but several points stand out as eternal strictures, never changing and never deserving of less than the maximum punishment.
I. Do not violate the sanctity of another's mind and soul.
There is no stricture against learning and using mental or psychic disciplines to influence the mind of another, this law, rather, speaks to changing the identity, erasing the brain or mutating the nature of another's mind or soul. Mortals, especially, sometimes must to be subject to mental manipulation in order to make hiding the supernatural easier. If someone commits a crime and signs of mental manipulation are found, however, the one who did the manipulating will be punished under the full extent of magical law. Illusions are legal, memory alteration is allowable under certain circumstances but the mental or spiritual domination of another living being is considered a high crime, punishable by no less than total power stripping. Bindings on undead or summoned Outsiders don't count as undead are not alive and outsider contracts are legally binding oaths.
II. Do not bring undue harm to a mortal.
When people go missing, other people look. When people die mysteriously, people look HARD. When dealing with normal humans it is considered almost crass to resort to magic, but if you do then it should be magic that can be easily physically handwaved. It should also be clear that you were defending yourself, killing innocent humans with magic is considered a fast-track to going rogue and being hunted. It is ALWAYS considered better to incapacitate mortals than killing them, it is not the place of the mystical world to pass mundane judgements.
III. Magic may not travel through time.
Time magic is powerful and prized but though it can halt, slow or speed the flow of time in an area, the ability to travel through time is not possible. If it were, rewinding time to alter history would be a high crime.
IV. Magic may not resurrect the dead.
Necromancy and animating the dead are fine, but actually returning life to the dead is, so far, impossible. Death cannot be meddled with, only undeath.
V. Do not sacrifice living, sapient beings for the sake of your magic.
A lot of dark magic comes about from the sacrifice and murder of living human beings. Curses, grudges, spectres and unhallowed ground can all result from such depraved acts. Sacrificers are found and put to death immediately.
VI. Do not commit acts of atrocity against reality.
Other acts of magical destruction on a massive scale are observed under this law and are punished extensively based on the severity of the crime. Mass property damage on accident may only be levied with fines and magic suppression, but attempted genocide, mass destruction and other atrocities are met with immediate extermination.
Most uses of dark magic of any kind are carefully monitored for signs of corruption, as are those who traffic with the infernal planes. There is little room in the secret world for those who would use their powers for evil ends and the Lex Magica is brought down like a hammer upon them.
The Grey Council
The Grey are a group of supernatural entities apparently divorced from any other group, they exist only to punish those who break the Lex Magica and are recognized by all secret societies as arbiters of its judgement. If a society doesn't carry out sentence for breaking one of the great laws then the Grey will undoubtedly become involved. They are generally not easy to spot, but the blank grey crests they prominently display when on the job are known to all familiar with the secret world.
The Association for Magecraft and Sorcery (TAMS): The Association is currently the largest and oldest secret magical society in the world, the original form of which dates back to the mid 1400s. The current headquarters is a castle nestled in the Scottish countryside, it appears abandoned from the outside but is in fact covered with a Veil spell that prevents mundanes from seeing the lavish and well appointed grounds. TAMS is a very open and general society that accepts the research and protection of many forms of magic and has few strictures on joining. Members of TAMS must not break the laws of the Lex Magica, that is all. They are, otherwise, free to go about their business. This hands-off mentality, though, makes TAMS less the progressive force it was hundreds of years ago and now more of an old boy's club. It, sadly, has fallen into politicking and bigotry as of late, only giving serious thought to the works of mages that come from storied magical bloodlines with sexism and racism sadly common. It is still an amazing support base and form of meeting and communicating with other mages, but many whisper than the Association is a stagnant beast and isn't long to die off…
Kindle: Kindle is an organization of thaumaturgical science that attempts to apply the strictures of the scientific method to the ancient ideas behind magic. To a kindler there is no such thing as the supernatural because everything is a natural phenomenon, we simply lack the means to properly study some of these events. Kindle takes special interest in the emergence of flares, those who gain sudden magical or psionic talent for no apparent reason. They have the best support base for suddenly emerging flares and want to both study them and help them to master their powers, as many untrained flares end up causing damage and death. Kindle is headquartered in their own lab complex in Dubai. Kindle attracts a lot of people whose paranormal abilities relate more to the modern world and to technology than to anything else as well, housing many technomancers and supergenius level inventors.
Miskatonic Academy: The foremost American organization dedicated to the study and dissection of the Arcane, Miskatonic is also an international elevator school for young mages everywhere, housing high school up through college. Nestled on an island off the New England coast of Maine, Miskatonic is one of those places that people in the outside hear strange rumors about but chalk it up to nothing more than silly superstition: ghosts on campus, witches in the woods, strange religions. These are, of course, all real. The witches in the woods are a sorority, the ghosts on campus advise the faculty and the strange religions are extracurricular classes. Miskatonic studies all facets of magic but focuses the most pride on summoning, conjuration and the study of Outsiders and other such eldritch abominations. It's common for the summoning or creation of a familiar to be a freshman project and a companion that the student has accompany them through school, at least until they're skilled enough to summon or make a better one. Miskatonic has many majors from Applied Necromancy to Divination to Otherworldly Cults to Elemental Shaping! It's not too difficult to get a scholarship to go there if you can display some magical talent, and of course can find out the school even exists, but if you have to pay your way then there is a lot of debt in your future.
The Church: A secret society exists that connects not only the Catholic Church but many other Christian world faiths together under the banner of supernatural research and defense. Despite all coming from seperate denominations, the Christian sorcerers and guardians of the Church are united under a common sanction: the ability to use heretical methods, equipment and means to understand and, if necessary, destroy supernatural threats. No other society is as dedicated to collecting, protecting and using magical artifacts as the Church, especially religious artifacts. The Church possesses many reliquaries and weapons both ancient and modern blessed with holy might. Next to the Association, the Church is the most adamant that humanity as a whole not be exposed to the existence of the paranormal and that paranormal threats be eliminated before they can cause more damage. Though they are on less than friendly terms because of bad blood during the Renaissance, TAMS and the Church share a lot of information about paranormal artifacts and beings and agents of both factions may operate under steady truces in order to tackle a problem together. At other times they are rivals, both seeking similar goals for different reasons, TAMS seeking to control and study what the Church would rather seal away.
HERAKLES: HERAKLES is an organization dedicated to the study of internal alchemy, or the pursuit of transhuman potential, and external alchemy, the mastery of external matter. Both pursuits are surprisingly similar as they focus on aspects of transmogrification and transformation, from the pursuit of transforming lead into gold to finding the secrets of immortality. HERAKLES is a very individualistic society compared to the more communal attitudes of the other groups and operate in small cliques loosely connected under the HERAKLES banner. Each clique has its own headquarters but they also share a communal chantry house in Sydney, Australia. Here are three of these cliques.
The Godchildren, who are those whose internal alchemy studies have lead them to discover the bloodlines of ancient deities (or at least beings that we have referred to as deities) from the world's history that exist to this very day. Certain flares, they posit, gain their powers from a divine bloodline and the Godchildren are dedicated to researching this phenomenon. They are currently headed by a man who is a demigod child of Hecate, goddess of magic. The Godchildren have camps and houses hidden from mortal eyes where their members can discover their divine gifts in peace.
The Changemakers are a clique that put intense study into more modern forms of alchemy, not simply potions and lead into gold (though those are still important) but also the fusion of magic and technology and the study of the human soul. Changemakers have mastered many forms of physical transmutation, but other secrets yet elude them and they rove and search through ancient tombs for the ancient knowledge they want. Most are seeking immortality in some form or another. Many have resigned themselves to sustaining themselves through undeath or by transferring their souls into a mechanical construct of some form but others want a permanent solution that does not entail transfer or transmutation of the soul and body, the path to True Immortality.
While there are many forms of magic and supernatural martial arts that focus through the body and all of the societies study them like they do other forms of magic, the Ten Thousand have a special consideration for it above the other groups. The Ten Thousand are made up of some of the most physically imposing figures in the world, but they also have a strong practice for honing the spiritual self as well. Similar to the Changemakers they also seek immortality, but rather than an external process they are sure that true immortality comes from true enlightenment and that you can only seek that out by yourself. The Ten Thousand are named such because, as they say, there are Ten Thousand Paths to Enlightenment and one must hold the truth!
The Alliance of Shades: The Alliance of Shades exists mostly due to the auspices of TAMS. It is a society for registered Outsiders and paranormal beings. While the other organizations are made up of humans and human hybrids and seldom admit fully paranormal creatures on more than a trial basis, the Shades are made up only of hybrids, demons, vampires, werewolves and other more esoteric beings. They have many safehouses and hiding places for monsters throughout the world. As long as they adhere to the Lex Magica and a strict code of nonviolence toward innocent mundane humans they can expect political and practical protection. The most numerous members of the Shades are half-demons and Vampires as demonic bloodlines are fairly common as far as supernatural lineages go and because Vampires as a race realize how vulnerable they are, despite their power, to a fearful populace and so have tightly married their own system of governance to the strictures of the Shades.
Other: Many organized religions have their own branch of supernatural expertise and there exist many smaller societies and groups like the above, these are simply the most powerful, recognized and lawful.
The Black List is a term used primarily by the Association and the Church that refers to entire organizations that somehow violate the Lex Magica or wantonly practice dark sorcery. When a group has been black-listed it means that their members are open to being imprisoned, sealed and eliminated at any time merely for choosing to belong. Only truly heinous groups earn this treatment.
The Transformation Society: HERAKLES might be into transhumanism and Miskatonic might not balk at attaching demonic symbiotes to its members, but the Transformation Society is dedicated to the pursuit of betterment through total change more than any other group. Specifically they are interested in a process known as 'becoming magic' where one completely transmutes body and soul into mana. While this sounds perfectly normal and not something one would be considered left-handed for, it is the requirements of this post-humanizing process that are repugnant. In order to transform themselves on a permanent basis, the Transformationists commit terrible acts of capturing, fattening and eating supernatural creatures and human hybrids. Some operate under the illusion that the Transformationists are merely excellent demon hunters and only do this to demons they would have killed normally, but those in the know understand that they have tracked down and captured entire families so they can consume their bodies in arcane meals or even right off the bloody bone merely for being related to a captured hybrid. There is, technically, nothing illegal according to the Lex Magica about summoning Outsiders for ones own use, but the reasons and methods they have are still seen as unnecessarily cruel, earning the Transformationists a place on the TAMS blacklist.
The Uncrowned: While the Transformationists may be repugnant the Uncrowned are truly out and out evil. They not only practice dark magic, they revel in it. They believe wholeheartedly that unrestricted magic research is the way towards a better world. They want to enslave mortals to their whim, not hide from them. They believe that mages are the highest forms of life that have ever been or ever will be and all the universe belongs to them to bend, shape and alter. They are magic supremacists of the worst kind, they believe that mortals have no rights beyond what mages should give them and they believe they have no obligations towards resisting any urge to harm, control or destroy them or any non-human as long as they are not a Mage. If they had their way the world would be a bastion of dark magic under their complete control and they would no longer be Uncrowned at all.