Thread for Magic in the CoS Universe

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 Magic in the CoS Universe
1:33am, June 29, 2021
Recently, it has been decided that, to allow variety and perhaps more flexibility for players, magic is finally being allowed within the City of Shadows universe. However, there are some caveats regarding such a concept in a contemporary modern setting. There are probably going to be a lot of questions, and hopefully this thread will answer some of, if not all, these questions.

What is the lore of Magic in the City of Shadows Universe?

Prior to recorded history of the world, mankind strove to understand the world, and this was originally through the magic arts. Its origins are shrouded in mystery and there are many cultural interpretations regarding such; but it was practiced by those who wished to acquire more knowledge for the greater pursuit of mankind's potential, or to attain power for their own personal gain. There were many different styles and schools of thought concerning magic in accordance with the cultures which developed throughout the world as well.

The Thurian and Hyborian ages were perhaps when magic was at its most prominent, and there were many supernatural creatures which existed at this time.

After many cataclysmic disasters and wars, civilizations began to be reborn anew, with magic also surviving past the forgotten Hyborian Age. As these civilizations evolved into the ones which would survive into the modern era, they continued to develop their forms of magic.

As time progressed, magic still maintained a strong hold as a means of seeking knowledge or acquiring power, through the Bronze Age all the way up to the Renaissance. With the transition into the Renaissance came a new form of understanding the world and all that encompassed it: science. This new train of thought allowed seemingly ordinary people to discover knowledge and directly affect the world around them, learning in better detail. This new concept challenged magic, and many Mages felt as if the Golden Age was coming to an end. And this wasn't their only concern, either – Christianity grew to prominence.

And as Christianity’s devout followers spread throughout the world, this most certainly seemed to cement the Mages’ fear. With the Church now gripping hold throughout Europe, and explorers setting out on expeditions, a ripple was felt by many communities and cultures, most of whom were being assimilated by the Church. The Church's means of expansion were not always very peaceful, nor diplomatic. In an attempt to deal with heresy and those whom the Church deemed unholy the Inquisitions were formed.

It wasn't until the 1400s that Witch hysteria took off. Many accused witches confessed, often under torture, to a variety of wicked behaviors. Within a century, witch hunts became common and most of the accused were executed by burning at the stake or hanging. This is how much knowledge regarding magic began to be lost, through many grimoires being burned or confiscated by the Church. However, try as it might, the Church couldn’t destroy outright all of the knowledge; some practitioners survived and retained what was learned through handwritten documentations and smuggled books.

With the promise of escaping persecution and seeking new freedom, quite a few magic practitioners boarded on the Mayflower during its maiden voyage of 1620 to the New World. Upon reaching this new land, they resumed the practice of magic, but behind closed doors for fear of persecution. These fears would come true during the 1600s when the Witch Trials took grip of early America, most prominently in Salem, Massachusetts. Many were accused of practicing Witchcraft and Satanism despite little evidence supporting these claims. False testimonies led to the deaths of many men, women and sometimes children, some of which were not even practicing Mages. Much like in Europe, many grimoires and books were burned or confiscated, and this contributed to a further loss of knowledge.

When the Witch Hunts and Trials ended, it was decided by these small communities which practiced their arts to salvage whatever could be found in a few handwritten books and notes and pass this knowledge down through family as the generations passed... or to abandon the practice of magic altogether and assimilate into the greater population.

As time progressed, science grew more prominent and Christianity continued to spread its influence, while magic continued to fade further into obscurity. Nonetheless, magic survived, but did not regain its former prominence.

How does Magic fit in Modern times?

As stated earlier, because of the Inquisitions and Witch Hunts, many of those who practiced magic decided to either do so in secrecy or even outright abandon magic entirely and attempt to live normal lives within the general population. However, as the years progressed, in the face of greater understanding through exposure to different cultures and lifestyles, there seems to have been an open acceptance of some faiths which seemingly do have magical roots, such as Wicca, Santeria, Kotodama, Vodun, Taoism, and Hoodoo to name a few. Furthermore, the Church has somewhat relaxed its stance on assimilating other cultures and eradicating their respective faiths. However, these faiths which do have mystic and spiritualistic beliefs are not as exuberant with magic as in the days of old.

There have also been instances where certain magic-oriented groups have survived the Inquisitions and Witch Hunts, such as the Esoteric Order of Dagon, the Cult of the Darkhold, and the various Cthulhu cults which exist out there.

Magic is often considered something from the realm of superstition and in many cases, the stuff of fairy tales. The general public considers science to be more tangible and reliable, based on experimentation and discovery of facts, whereas magic is often left in the realm of entertainment and literature such as the famed story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

But there is always a grain of truth in legend.

Who knows about Magic and the Supernatural in Modern times?

The general populace of Earth 1987-2229 is quite accepting and aware of individuals who utilize super science or somehow have acquired superhuman abilities. But for the most part, not many know that there are those who utilize mystical means of acquiring knowledge or power, nor are they aware of the creatures which go bump in the night. However, just because the general populace is not aware of these things, doesn't mean that there aren’t organizations who practice magic and the supernatural.

Some civilians have created organizations for the study of the paranormal and supernatural, yet they are mostly considered ill-equipped to deal with the more dangerous situations involving spirits and demonic entities.

The United States Government is quite aware of the supernatural and even has several divisions which were created to deal with these things. The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) and SHIELD's Wizardry Alchemy Necromancy Department (WAND), for example, were formed to investigate matters involving magic and the supernatural, and sometimes employ in their ranks individuals who practice magic to investigate and neutralize supernatural and magical threats.

And then there are rumors of a shadow organization which investigates magical and supernatural artifacts and entities, intending to secure, contain, and protect these things – or so they claim – all to prevent mass hysteria among the general populace.

Where and What is Magic sourced from?

In the universe of Earth 1987-2229, the energy required to perform magic is referred to as the Aether. However, many cultures around the world have their own interpretations of this very concept and perhaps even their own unique approaches and workings to utilize this energy to perform magic.

Melanesian and Polynesian cultures refer to this as Mana; the Greeks interpretation of this concept is referred to as Aither; the Latin language referred to it as Quintessence. Regardless of what this is called, the common idea is that this energy is derived from an external source to perform and execute spells.

The Eastern cultures over in the region of Asia have their own unique styles of performing magic in comparison to their Western counterparts and have found an alternative source to draw upon the necessary energy to perform such feats. Rather than drawing upon the environment to perform magic, the Eastern practitioners have instead learned to cultivate and draw upon their own latent energy flow, otherwise known as Qi, Chi, Ki, Dan Tien, Chakra or Prana. However, the caveat with Eastern styled magic is that the majority of such practitioners are required to hone their minds and bodies as drawing upon their own energy flows makes this type of magic burn more intensely, brighter and quicker. This particular type of magic is referred to as Chi-Magic.

What is the difference between Magic and Ki?

The answer to this question needs to have the glaring elephant in the room addressed. Energy is energy. Plain and simple. Just like how heat and wind are considered forms of energy. Both can be used to power whatever is required to be put into motion.

The Aether is drawn from the very external sources, specifically from the surrounding environment around the user. The Aether most commonly is a specific magic force and only magic users can tap it. It is only used for magic and most times only for spells. There is often only one kind of Aether, which works for most, if not all magic. Its properties are above or beyond fundamental physics.

Ki is essentially the life force within a living entity which regulates the body's health. It is a unique energy with many components: the heat in the body, the electrical current that circulates the nervous system, the energy generated from chemical reactions, etc. It has metaphysical properties, but these properties and its origins are very much different from magic, and it varies from one living being to another.

In the universe of Earth 1987-2229, Ki has come under the scrutiny and study of science. Scientists have long known that the body emits bio-photons. A photon is a packet of electromagnetic energy that has zero mass at rest and moves at the speed of light in a vacuum. Throughout the years, tests have been carried out and measurements made on Ki practitioners who showed an 800x increase in the number of bio-photons emitting from them. These results strongly indicate that Ki energy and bio-electricity are intertwined. There is a train of thought that says Ki taps into our body’s bio-electric energy and that this can be manipulated. That through practice and meditation, it is possible to direct some of the massive amounts of contained energy to perform amazing feats that possibly may compete with magic.

Are there Magic Schools?

Within the universe of Earth 1987-2229, there are currently no known schools which passed on the practice of magic to potential students. This is likely because of a variety of factors, such as the Witch Hunts and Trials, being responsible for the persecution and public executions of many practitioners under the assumption they were performing acts of heresy as well as the book burnings and confiscations conducted by the Inquisitions, which resulted in the loss of many grimoires. Due to the fear of renewed persecution, many members within the magic community kept their craft in secret-- this meant that taking on students had to be done carefully and usually was kept to small groups, as large gatherings could potentially bring unwanted attention.

Potential magic practitioners are likely taught within their families, as this is perhaps the best way to maintain a level of secrecy. Alternatively, future practitioners are inducted into a group with four to six other potential students with one experienced practitioner providing the lessons required to pass on the knowledge needed to perform these sets of skills.

Of further note, no two covens of magic practitioners are exactly the same. One group may specialize in one aspect of magic, and another school would specialize in a whole opposite field. These fields are referred to as traditions and there are eight known traditions.

What are the Traditions?

Abjuration - The study of warding magic for protection and defense. This is ideal for blocking or banishing supernatural objects or creatures, as well as removing curses and restoring individuals to their healthy selves.

Conjuration - The study of summoning objects and magical entities or placing one's self to a more favorable location.

Divination - The study of information gathering and truth-seeking. This is ideal for enhanced perception and allowing a user to detect good or evil.

Enchantment - The study of influence and control spells. This is ideal for casting hypnotism, charms, holding spells and utilization of the power of suggestion. In this tradition, words are power and must be spoken.

Evocation - The study of destruction and healing. This tradition is ideal for mastering the elements such as Earth, Fire, Wind and Water. This allows the user command over their surroundings. Curative spells are also part of this tradition.

Illusion - The study of illusion. This is magic which is meant to distract, intimidate or fool an adversary. Even magic has its limits, and Illusion is the one tradition which can make the impossible seem real.

Necromancy - The study of the control over life and death. This tradition allows the user to tap into the life energy of living things and manipulate it to animate creatures. This power can be used to heal or destroy. In the universe of 1987-2229, this tradition is largely frowned upon and rarely taught by many in the magic community as it's been utilized for more nefarious purposes such as creating undead aberrations.

Transmutation - The study of changing one object into another. This can be mistaken for evocation, but transmuters have the potential to change their surroundings, taking an object and turning it to something new. Examples include a mending spell to repair a child's toy, or a polymorph to shapeshift one form to another.

Are there Sorcerers in the CoS Universe?

If by Sorcerers we are referring to the differences between a Sorcerer and a Wizard within the context of the tabletop game, Dungeons and Dragons, then yes, they do happen to exist within the universe of Earth 1987-2229 but are not necessarily referred to as Sorcerers. Rather, they are called Homo Magi (singular: Homo Magus). Homo Magi evolved in a parallel but separate line, alongside Homo Sapiens. Homo Magi have existed for as long as the human race, but due to their special abilities, their population did not expand as Homo Sapiens' did. Eventually, they started to interbreed with normal humans, resulting in many generations of Homo Magi/Homo Sapiens hybrids. As the number of pure Homo Magi dwindled, they decided to go into hiding.

Unlike normal human beings who require rituals and grimoires to perform magic, Homo Magi are naturally attuned to and can perform direct magic. This makes Homo Magi quite dangerous as they are unaware of the potential of their power and if left unchecked, could spell disaster for the Homo Magi individual in question and those around them. Most Homo Magi are taken under the wing of an experienced and trained Homo Magi to better hone and control their abilities, or human Witches and Wizards to help them gain control over their potential.

Can I create a Magic-based character?

Absolutely. However, there are some things worth considering when creating a character who can use magic. Just who exactly is your character per se, and more importantly, what is their backstory – these are things to weigh in on when creating a character as it might also affect the abilities which your character has. How did they learn their abilities? Are they being trained by their families who have been dabbling in magic throughout their family history and tradition or are they a Homo Magus who is just beginning to realize that they have a power that they do not quite understand and need the necessary guidance to control it?

Take the time to think about your character or characters, and exactly which traditions they are going to practice. It's also recommended that they start off relatively low on the totem pole and with one tradition, beginning in the range of Beginner to Intermediate. Then the characters can work their way up to more Advanced stages and learn other traditions to acquire more skills through interaction with other player characters.

Remember, in the universe of Earth 1987-2229, Magic Practitioners are in the minority and likely may have to rely on one another.

Can I bring in my Magic-based character from (Insert Chatroom Name)?

Unfortunately, as we are experimenting with new territory here by allowing magic within the City of Shadows Universe, porting over pre-existing characters who likely have already developed a high level of magical power is going to be prohibited. We want our players to create new characters who are native to this realm and can grow these abilities through learning and experimenting.

I have more questions! Can I ask you something?

Feel free to ask any of the admins if you have a question pertaining to magic within the City of Shadows chatroom! We will do our best to provide you the answers that you seek and hope that you enjoy playing in here as much as we do!
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