Rules

Characters

The World

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: Mana is the energy manipulated by all beings that can, in some form or another, access magical powers. It is, however, also much more than that. Mana is within all things and is the background radiation of life itself. Without mana, matter and energy both become static and hollow. It is the most fundamental building block of reality. Magical abilities such as spells and the preternatural powers of monsters and spirits are performed by weaving together and binding mana in the proper ways in order to create a particular phenomenon and give it temporary reality. The earth itself has an ambient mana field that emanates from leylines, the flows of energy that crisscross the planet's surface. In certain places in the world the concentration of mana is strong enough to manifest in a physical, portable form. This generally happens most often in crystals and plants. These items are prized by magic users as ways to replenish their own stores of magic when they burn through them, or as items to act as catalysts and cores for magical items. Mana can have a negative, positive or neutral charge.

Natural Mana: The neutral form of mana. Mana with a neutral charge can come from anywhere and be used for anything. The mana that flows from the earth is always naturally neutral. Certain phenomena are required in order to transform mana into its positive or negative states. Natural mana is typically perceived as being blue in color.

Dark Mana: The negative form of mana. Also called chaotic or tainted mana. Dark mana is formed from places people consider "wounded" or produced in rituals of death and pain. It is mana twisted with the resonance of emotions such as fear, anger, hatred, pain and death. This resonance gives the mana great power, but also a natural inclination to use that power to destructive ends. Necromancers and demonologists learn to manipulate this dangerous energy safely, for it is also the energy that the undead and demons need to flourish. It is sometimes considered evil or unnatural, but the emotions and intentions that dark mana are born from are just as natural as anything else. A place overly saturated with dark mana becomes decrepit, mutated and chaotic and inspires rumination, self-interest and inconstancy. Dark and light mana neutralize and balance each other.

Light Mana: The positively charged form of mana. Light Mana is also called sacred, static, or holy mana. It is mana formed from places most people consider associated with law, order and faith. It also tends to resonate with emotions such as selflessness, righteousness, love and other emotions people consider good things. Angels, gods and ancestor spirits require light mana in order to manifest in our reality. While it forms in places of worship, it also forms in places like courthouses and government buildings where people's meditations on the law can cause neutral mana to transform into positive mana. Light mana is generally considered on the capital G Good side of things, but that can be a dangerous assumption. Tyrants, violent zealots or obsessive lovers can manipulate light mana with evil intentions quite easily. A place overly saturated in light magic becomes static and stale and inspires rigid, stubborn thinking. Dark and light mana neutralize and balance each other.

Leylines: Also known as dragon lines, leylines are rivers of mana that flow through the surface of the planet like veins. The land above leylines are often heavily saturated with excess mana that can be drawn from by mages. Special devices, runic circles and structures can be built on leylines to increase and harvest the energy running through them safely. Places where leylines cross are called Wellsprings.

Wellspring: A place where the leylines of the earth cross, causing mana to bubble up in great quantities. Mages and Outsiders can draw great power from such places. These places of power are so potent that even mundane humans can be drawn to and inspired by them and these places are where many monuments are built. Some wellsprings include the Eiffel Tower, the Tokyo Tower, Stonehenge and Mt. Rushmore.

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. Phantasms are given temporary reality for as long as the caster of the phantasm can keep the mana bound into its chosen form.

Outsiders: Outsiders are living beings that come from another reality into our own. Such beings include angels, demons and cthonics. Most Outsiders require a regular amount of mana in order to maintain their physical presence in our reality

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.

Undead: A being that was once alive, or composed of parts that were once alive, and has been reanimated or given persistence in a spiritual form. Undead are motivated by dark mana and require ways to replenish that mana. Generally they do so by consuming the blood, flesh, fear or pain of the living but undead animated by or contracted to mages simply draw their mana from their master like any summoned entity.

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 become intelligent. 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. Thus the prayers and rituals associated with faith magic is just as important as the mana shaping incantations and gestures in traditional spellcraft.

Mystic Entities and Supernatural Powers

Mages, sorcerers, priests, shamans, etc.

The most common practitioners of magic in the world are all mortal humans who through training, talent and natural mana controlling potential have gained access to mystical powers. These magic users have been called many things over the eons but the modern term most often used, regardless of tradition, is simply mage. Mages, by and large, come from families and cultures that have been learning magic for hundreds if not thousands of years and pass down the secrets of their arts through the generations. Magical traditions bolster their numbers through the centuries by taking in people who display magical potential but are unaware of their power or of the hidden world.

Each magical tradition has its own way of performing magic, but they all fulfill the same goal: the shaping and binding of mana in order to bring reality to the mage's design. Family traditions, formal schools, cultural beliefs, esoteric religions and folk magic all have wildly different methods and beliefs behind why magic works and what it is. Since mana is so universal and so versatile, it could be said that all of these traditions are correct.

Spellcraft occurs when a magically active individual focuses their imagination through the resonant acts of incantation, gestures, rituals and materials in order to draw forth and weave mana into the patterns required to achieve their aim. Whether blasting a demon with a bolt of lightning, healing a dire wound, boosting your cell phone reception or tricking a cashier into accepting blank paper as money, all have the same root.

Manipulating mana requires a combination of imagination, knowledge, mnemonic triggers and physical training. Imagination is required in order to fix firmly in your mind what precisely you want to occur. Knowledge is needed because the more you know about what you want to happen, the easier it is to cause that phenomenon to occur. Mnemonic triggers such as gestures and incantations strengthen your belief that what you want to occur will occur and also helps to self-hypnotize or induce minor trances that cause mana manipulation to become more instictive. Finally, physical training is needed because spellcasting is like using any muscle: it tires the body and becomes stronger as you train it. Mages that neglect their bodies can find themselves burning out because they push more mana than they can handle through themselves.

Though mortal, mages do have several advantages thanks to their manipulation of mana. First, learning how to store and channel more and more mana through a mage's own body infuses them with the essential life force of reality. Mages, therefore, live much longer than other mortals. The more powerful the mage, the longer they live, with some reaching a thousand years in age. This same mana also reacts instinctively to a mage's senses of pain and danger and creates weak but unconscious and sudden protective fields in a mage's skin, making mages tougher than they appear. These fields aren't strong like the shields mages can weave with spells, but they require no energy or concentration. Mana also infuses a mage's senses, giving them the ability to sense and interact with otherworldly phenomena that other mortals can't sense at all.

Ki Masters:

Seekers of faith, inner peace, balance and self discovery have the spread of talents and wants necessary to become ki masters. Ki masters, though intense training, mental focus and martial study, open the chakras of the body and allow them to channel mana through themselves at will. Where spellcasters focus their mana outward to transform the world around them, ki masters practice internal alchemy and martial arts to allow themselves to perform preternatural feats of fitness and motion.

Ki masters arise through both religions and martial traditions such as esoteric Buddhism, shaolin kung fu, shotokan karate and many other traditions of meditation and martial arts. Ki mastery sometimes also spontaneously triggers in monks and nuns of several religions, but it is primarily known to come from Asia. Of course in modern times these traditions have spread worldwide and schools across the world are known to produce potent ki masters now.

Ki masters use meditation, kata and breathing techniques to unlock supernatural martial arts that allow anything from punches that can split rivers in half to gentle touches that can crumble a person from the inside out. Ki techniques also unlock the potential of the body and mind, allowing ki masters to perform mundane tasks with more alacrity and precision than any mortal could hope.

Ki masters enjoy the same inherent advantages as spellcasters.

Psychics:

Sometimes called psions or mentalists, psychics are another form of spellcaster. They are more closely related to ki masters than to traditional mages, as their powers are born through channeling mana inward rather than weaving it into the outside world. This mana is run through the mind and like an electric current it supercharges the brain, unlocking the human potential for preternatural ability.

Psychic powers manifest in people who often have no idea they are pursuing psionic potential at all, they simply think of themselves as hard workers and people with strong study skills and intense focus. The mental fortitude these people display is extraordinary and even before their psychic power is unleashed they are often noticed for their drive, talent and dedication to self-perfection. Where these traits manifest as physical power in ki masters though, it is transformed into mental prowess for proto-psychics.

Psychics manifest their power quite suddenly as they reach a tipping point in their self-improvement and reach their Epiphany, where their mind finally breaks through to being able to perceive reality as it truly is: flows of mana and information. Psychic powers tap into these flows, allowing psychics to ignore the petty details of reality such as physical distance and the illusion of time.

Psionic abilities manifest as being able to move things with the mind, being able to slow or speed molecular motion (creating cold or heat), the power to perceive the past or future and the ability to reach into the minds of others and hear their thoughts or change their very perceptions. Psions see reality to its most fundamental parts, so they know that matter is easily movable and thought is just another form of energy for them to manipulate to their will.

Flares:

Flares are sudden and inexplicable. They are people who, through no act of their own or product of any training, awaken to preternatural powers. They are most often psychics or mages but flares have exhibited almost any kind of supernatural power in the past, but this power tends to be specific and focused. A flare's powers tend to strangely suit them, almost as if a wish had been granted, or a part of themselves had suddenly thrust forward to be known in the metaphysical realm. Flares are so-called because the moment of their awakening, or sparking, can be sensed by magic users as a brilliant flare of colored light reaching into the sky.

The life of a flare is a very difficult one indeed. Other magic users come from long traditions, ancient bloodlines, intense training and other methods that cause them to be ready for their powers when they manifest, even if the power is a surprise in the end. Flares have no such preparation, they simply suddenly realize they can do something other people can't and often violently. Some flares have quieter powers such as those that can simply interact with and sense the unseen, but those that can manifest fire or move things with their mind or, so help you, summon beings from other realities spontaneously can quickly find themselves on the run, responsible for destroying their own homes and families. The lucky flares are taken in by those who know the score, the unlucky ones are hunted down and either killed or enslaved by those with dark intentions.

The supernatural organizations often have people whose main purpose is sensing and collecting flares, trying to save them and others around them from themselves. Some even have precognitives who try to find them before they spark.

Outsiders:

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 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.

Demons

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, becoming amoral creatures. Not all demons are inherently evil or destructive of course, they are merely beings of passion and chaos and instinct, this creates many different sorts of creature. Many of them, however, should be rightly feared.

Celestials

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.

Another common sort of celestial is the ancestor spirit. Most humans that die pass on into the realms of death, but some have great will and a drive that keep them anchored to the world not as an undead ghost, but as a semi-divine spirit that dwell within realms close to the earth where they can intervene in the lives of their descendants through granting good fortune.

Cthonics

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.

Monsters

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

Werebeasts, also called weres or shifters, are humans that share a bloodline with powerful and ancient animal spirits, who in humanity's ancient past mingled with and blessed our ancestors to create lines of spiritually and physically powerful hybrid children. Contrary to popular belief, werebeasts are not infectious and do not pass their condition through a bite. The myth of the werewolf bite came about because if a person with the potential to become a shifter shows signs that their first change is soon to come, another werebeast will often take animal form and carefully bite or scratch the potential in order to track them later using their scent and taste.

Simply put, you are either born a werebeast or you are not. Secret dynasties of werebeasts exist all over the world, carrying the blood of a particular spirit within them and thus the form and powers of that spirit. Outside of these families many human bloodlines carry the potential for shifting but over tens of thousands of years the bloodlines have thinned and spread and it has become nearly impossible to figure out who has the potential to undertake their first transformation and truly become a werebeast. The werebeast clans are always on the lookout for people who are followed by spiritual disturbances and show the unseen signs of nearing their first change.

The first change is very traumatic for a werebeast. It often happens in someone's early teen years, though children as young as 6 or 7 can transform in bloodlines that run particularly strong. The first change always happens beneath a full moon. Why this is is unknown, but legend has it that the great spirit of the moon is the appointed guardian of the werefolk and so her mana at its peak ushers them forth into their new life as a shifter. If a werebeast is lucky they would have already been tracked and marked by a member of their kind who can take them in and shield others from the throes of rage and violence that can occur from a maddened, terrified new were. Others wake up from their first change having done something unthinkable.

After their first change, werebeasts find their powers begin to come under control, though they can still go rather wild when a were feels intense emotions. Rage and fear can trigger their transformations, so discipline is very important for them to keep themselves under control. They are always struggling to maintain harmony with the wild passions and instincts of their animal spirit side and the rationality of their human side.

Werebeasts all share certain weaknesses and powers. First, they are stronger, faster and more agile than any human with bodies that are easy to train and build. Their senses are sharper and their intuition is very acute. Second is their transformations. All werebeasts can take on the form of the animal to which they are connected, but they can also take on a bigger, stronger, more deadly warform that blends their human and animal characteristics to create an efficient warrior. Werebeasts can also cause their animal features to manifest in their human form in smaller ways, such as a werepanther summoning her claws for a moment or a wereshark manifesting gills as they swim. Third, their connection to the great spirits of nature allow werebeasts to learn how to manipulate mana in the way that nature spirits can. By forming bonds with nature spirits they can learn how to wield the specific preternatural powers that spirit knows.

They also all share weaknesses. First, the metal silver disrupts the bond between spirit and man and can cause burns just by touching a werewolf. Silver is unbearably heavy to them when it touches them, causing even thin nets or chains of it to bind them completely. The reason for this weakness is unknown, but silver is known to be the metal associated with the moon so it's theorized that while the moon's mana empowers werebeasts her associated metal can overcome that empowerment like no other material can. Second, werebeasts often have other weaknesses imposed on them by the link to their spirit and the way that the spiritual world is affected by human belief. Werewolves being weak to wolfsbane for instance. Third, werebeasts are all connected to the moon's power.

Normally this connection doesn't overly affect them, except on the days of the full and no moon. Full moon nights where the werebeast is fully bathed in moonlight causes an intense desire to transform into hybrid form, some can fight this urge and simply turn into animal form but this struggle can quickly turn into an uncontrolled rage for the inexperienced. Most weres try to stay indoors during the full moon and some have special rooms they can access where they can lock themselves up until the full moon has passed. No moon nights have the opposite effect, when the moon is completely shadowed weres have a night where they are, essentially, entirely human. All of their powers fade for the night. It is important to know that only the moon at night seems to affect werebeasts, the day of the full or no moon when the sun is out has no effect on them.

Undead

Ghosts and Spectres

Ghosts are the unbound lost souls of humans who died. Specifically ghosts died in a way that was traumatic, unjust or left them with a lot of unfinished business they are unwilling to leave unresolved. These feelings result in ghosts being tied to tethers: people, places and objects that help to sustain their essence. 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. The tales of haunted houses or people seemingly followed by the spirit of a dead loved one result from ghosts having tethers to those people or places.

Some ghosts are stronger and more aware than others. The weakest ghosts aren't souls at all, but merely a spiritual imprint of a traumatic event, being relived over and over. Stronger ghosts might not know that they're dead, repeating the same actions as they forget their death. Stronger ghosts realize they are dead and interact with the world of the living in limited ways, creating hauntings and poltergeist phenomena.

Ghosts that unlive a long time can become hateful and spiteful and transform into beings known as spectres. Spectres have willingly cast off the things that tied them to their human existence, motivated by their hate and malignance to cause pain and suffering to the living and to other ghosts. Eventually they can rip themselves away from their tethers to life and survive by feeding on the life force of the living or the ectoplasm of other ghosts. Spectres become more and more twisted in appearance as a ghost's sense of self erodes and they become more monstrous and horrific over time. This transformation is more than just cosmetic, often manifesting in otherworldly powers and traits that make them more effective killers and creators of fear.

Zombies, Ghouls and Revenants

Zombies are created from the corpses of the dead, either a single corpse or many stitched together. They are animated through spellcraft, usually in the form of a ritual or a special powder or potion. Zombies come in many forms, from dried dessicated mummies to hastily animated rotten cadavers to hulks of undead muscle that are considered carefully crafted works of necromantic art. Zombies are essentially tools to be used by mages with the knowledge to animate the dead. They take on many tasks such as bodyguards, house servants, assassins or lab assistants. As long as they are being animated by a magic user, zombies and other related physical undead require no food, air, water or sleep to function. They can be created with a wide range of both physical and mental faculties with some zombies nearly-human in intelligence and others robotic servants. Contrary to popular believe zombies animated through necromancy don't smell bad as the spells necessary to move them tend to do away with any microorganisms that create decay.

Ghouls are spontaneously created zombies that arise due to the aftereffects of magical powers or the accumulation of dark mana in places where dead bodies are stored. They are just as varied as willfully made zombies, but they are unplanned for and are unconnected to any magic user. This creates in them a need to feast on the flesh of the living to take in the mana they need to survive. Ghouls smell quite horrible as they are not animated through spellcraft, so they are rotting even as they walk.

Revenants are the most sophisticated type of zombie in that not only are they animate but they actually have a soul as well. Sometimes a person dies and rather than linger as a ghost they possess their own dead body and move it around in order to fulfill a goal or bring justice to their cause of death. They are as intelligent as they were in life and also have their own will. Magic zombies can be quite smart, but they are still empty soulless bodies and have no true will or drive outside of serving their master. Revenants are truly intelligent and driven. Revenants need to devour raw meat in order to survive, but where ghouls are motivated to devour the living, revenants can draw mana from eating any kind of meat as long as its raw and fresh.

Vampires

Vampires are the most eminent of all undead and are considered near-royalty in the world of monsters. They are humans who are reanimated through a curse passed through the blood. The origin of the vampiric blood curse has been utterly lost to time. Vampires old enough to have existed back when the first vampires would have emerged have lost the memories of that time to the fog of ages. Vampires are immortal, but they change and forget over time as mortals do.

Transforming someone into a vampire is deceptively simple. When a newly dead human (usually because their blood has been drained) is given the blood of a noble vampire they transform into one of the undead and begin a vampiric unlife cycle. This cycle, however, is inconstant and dangerous. It is unknown what factors allow someone to push through each stage of vampire evolution to become a noble, but it is considered to happen completely through personal merit. Even someone who was turned at the highest echelons of human society is treated as the lowest of the low by their fellow vampires until they evolve and prove their place among the noble dead.

Only mortal humans can become vampires, including mages, psychics and ki-masters. Outsiders and other monsters are too different for the blood curse to take root and werebeasts simply reject vampiric blood entirely.

The following stages describe the levels of vampire evolution and thus of vampire society's social ladder.

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. They are strong and fast, but they possess no overt supernatural powers and have no magical potential. Over time, the strigoi begins to recover their memories and becomes more and more intelligent until they hit a tipping point and evolve into the common vampire serf. The strigoi stage usually only lasts for several days but can last for weeks if the subject isn't willful enough. Some who turn strigoi never recover, trapped as if death is unwilling to release them any further. 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 undead beasts.

Serf: Most strigoi eventually hit a tipping point and fall into a slumber that lasts a full day. When they awaken the next night they have full control of their faculties again and regain all of their intelligence and memories as their mind, body and soul come back into alignment after the trauma of the vampiric transformation. This stage is known as the common vampire, or the vampire serf. A vampire serf is limited in their powers and their freedoms. They have free will again, but a formally worded command from their creator can force them to undertake any action that doesn't result in self-destruction. Some vampires can resist these commands to an extent, but never fully. A vampire serf does have access to a growing library of powers as they awaken in their blood the magic of their creator, inheriting their bloodline's unique powers on top of the common powers of the vampire. Serfs are unable to create new vampiric powers or learn them from anyone other than their master and, most importantly, serfs are unable to create any new vampires. If they try to feed a dead human their blood it will result in a common ghoul, the body animated but not the soul. The serf stage can last for nearly any length of time. Some never evolve, some evolve after mere months, most evolve after years or even decades as a common vampire. Serfs are still respected as vampires by most creatures, but they are barely even considered members of the vampire community until their evolution to the true form of vampirism.

Noble: The rarest and most powerful sort of vampire, nobles are also called true vampires. Some serf vampires feel an intense compulsion to seek out a sunless hidden place, wherein they weave a crystalline cocoon out of their own flesh. This glittering cocoon is nearly indestructible except for the light of the sun fully cast on it or an extremely intense fire. Three nights later the chrysalis will crack, shatter and burst forth, revealing the newly born 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.

Each noble vampire adds to the potency of their bloodline, so it is the goal of noble vampires whenever they choose to sire a new undead that that vampire will eventually become noble as well. This is the crux of their hierarchical society, for every noble vampire sires the vampire that may one day surpass them. They create children that are their family, their subordinates and their eventual rivals.

Once a vampire is a noble other vampire nobles will acknowledge them and accept them into their hierarchy. 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/Marchessa - 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.)

Vampires assemble themselves into secret courts that are led by the vampire of the highest rank. These courts are made up of many vampires from large areas, which is more efficient than having many small courts of only a handful of vampires. Some very large cities with a larger population of vampires may have their own court, but generally courts are formed on a state or country level.

Courts are filled out by vampire knights for the most part, with various offices of state taken up by vampires of the baron level and higher. Vampires of enough power to be considered princes or kings are quite rare, so most vampire courts are ruled by a vampire between count and duke level. Vampire nobles are social creatures by nature but are also very independent, governing them is an exercise of careful management and planning. The positions in a vampire court are there mostly to help vampires to regulate themselves and their own territories, to interact with the rest of supernatural society and to manipulate the local mortals in order to maintain secrecy and create opportunities for vampires. Vampire courts mark out hunting areas for their vampires, create boundaries to prevent infighting and arbitrate disputes. They also limit the creation of new vampires by requiring members of the court to petition to create and prove why the person they want to turn will make a good noble one day.

The vampire courts are ultimately organized under the Alliance of Shades. The Alliance offers vampires the world over a united form of government that they share with other monsters that have bound themselves to it in order to foster understanding and tolerance. The allied courts understand the importance of reigning in their own dark impulses, limiting feeding, avoiding killing and remaining hidden from mortals. Under the Alliance they have an understanding with the rest of the supernatural world, especially the mages of TAMS, that allows them to continue to exist unimpeded despite their naturally predatory nature. Courts that refuse to align with the Alliance are sanctioned and sometimes allowed to be destroyed by hunters. They realize it doesn't take many vampires stepping out of line for the hammer to come down on all of them.

Vampires require blood to live but as long as they aren't expending massive amounts of power regularly they only need to feed on about a pint of blood a week in order to stay healthy. This won't do much to curb their hunger however, and most vampires always feel at least a little hungry unless they're feeding almost every day. They take little physical harm from bullets and blunt trauma, only being hurt easily by fire, blades and sunlight. They either have to lose enough blood or be exposed to heat, light and flame in order to be truly hurt. Unless decapitated, immolated, exposed to sunlight or run through the heart even the most horribly mangled, sliced up, bullet-ridden vampire can eventually heal back completely.

Vampires share the following common powers. Any powers that a vampire uses will cause them to grow hungrier faster, requiring them to feed more often. They are faster and stronger than humans and far more durable, able to regenerate from wounds so long as they have fed enough. The more dire the wound, the more blood they need to use in order to heal themselves. They become stronger and faster over time, starting off barely stronger than a human and eventually being able to outrun trains and lift cars. They're adept climbers and can cling to most surfaces for short periods of time and can fall great distances without being hurt. All vampires are able to lash out with powerful claws that remain hidden until they slash out with their hands, the claws themselves formed from a combination of shadow and bone that quickly form and disperse, creating a stealthy and strong offense.

All advanced vampiric powers fall under the umbrella of either blood magic or night magic. All vampires have wildly varying powers within these spheres of influence, some focused on one and some spread between the two.

Blood magic is the vampiric power over the physical. It involves powers that allow a vampire to transform into predatory animals, manipulate blood itself, enhance their already considerable physical prowess, disperse into mist and other abilities that mostly target the bodies of themselves and others.

Night magic is the vampirit power over the ephemeral. It allows for powers that control the minds of beasts and cloud and glamour the minds of people, manifest and control darkness, move things with the mind and manipulate mana outside the body.

Vampires can learn mortal spellcraft as well, causing them to be very powerful and unpredictable indeed.

Half-breeds

Love happens and so half-breeds happen. Humans, as it has been proven time and again, can fall in love with almost anything and their children will almost always be unique. Despite being wildly different from humans, many preternatural beings are nevertheless interfertile with them perhaps due to an interaction of living mana. Half-humans come about generally through congress with outsiders, but some earthly spirits and faeries also can have children with mortals.

As a note, vampires can't have natural children at all and werebeasts sire children who have a higher chance of becoming werebeasts, so there are no half vampires or half werewolves.

Half-Demons

Changelings

Spirit-touched

Planes

Reality isn't as simple or straightforward as it seems, there are many worlds that exist above, below and alongside our own. Collectively these are called planes of existence. Following are some examples of the near infinite planes.

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.

Infernal Planes

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.

Celestial Planes

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.

Alien Landscapes

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.

Organizations

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:

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.

Black-Listed Organizations

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.

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