Part One: What is it and How Can it be Used?
Magic is the name given to the power that came with the Shadow World and now resides in what has become of our world. It is a power that responds to will and is controlled by the mind, so in most respects it works as how many of believe magic to work. Therefore magic is probably exactly what it is. However it is still a mysterious force that most don’t truly understand, and many would claim it uses people as much as they use it. Some believe it is a living thing, a sentient power that wants to be used. This kind of thinking typically belongs in secret cults, though. Some who are steeped in science would propose that it is really a form of telekinesis that manifests itself in apparitions of energy. But for most, it is magic, and that’s all anyone needs to know. Yet the very fact magic is a force of nature that does manifest in various ways and is used to differing results by all kinds of creatures, does leave questions, doubts and fears that might never be resolved.
There are few solid facts about magic, so we’ll cover them and be done. First and foremost is that magic originates in the Shadow World. While no one alive knows just how Dylan Winter summoned the Shadow World to our own, it is known magic was involved, but not the way it is used in the present day. It is widely suspected he performed a kind of arcane ritual which unleashed magic, and so the world with it, into our dimension. But what is certain is that, for all the tales of wizards and witches before this event, magic was not in our plane of existence. After the Shadow World came, then humans began to feel power within them, and soon they were able to wield it. Magic became a genuine presence among nature itself. Weird things would occur and still do. The weather became far more unpredictable. Life was never the same.
Another fact is that magic is highly risky. Many succumbed to it in the early times, either destroyed by it, driven mad or a few simply vanished. Magic is no one’s pet. It is wild and thriving and needs great presence of mind and strength of spirit to command it. People can use it a lot easier in smaller and simple acts, but to truly use magic, one must grasp fire and endure the burning.
Magic is in the land, and in some places more than others. Great Britain is a magical hotspot, where more people are born with the power in them and where those who can use it find it more freely available, in greater quantities. Japan is supposedly a magical hot spot as well, yet no one has been there for a very long time. Magical hotspots drew monsters of power to them so all four had great difficulties early on. Madagascar is now the home of the gleaners, corrupted and deadly. The Caribbean was the other place, the last of the for corners upon which Dylan Winter turned the worlds, and it was decimated by nuclear attacks early on. Now a smattering of tiny islands pepper that region, and where Mexico once was, and many weird and wonderful things occur there.
According to those who sense magic, it is stronger in some places than others. Obviously the hotspots are steeped in magic, but elsewhere it varies. The region of North America shows little sign of it, overrun as it was by cities and industry and scientific warfare. South America, Africa and much of Asia show more signs of magic, but never in abundance. For the most part, it will spring up in specific locations, revealing itself with more natural born magic-users residing there, along with possible unnatural vibes or unusual phenomenon. Many such places are hard to find as they drew dragons or other monsters early on, which drove everyone else away, or the locals do their best to protect themselves and their secret. Magic is sought after. Even those who cannot summon it themselves want the power as it is occasionally found in objects that any can use, if with the usual risks. Magic can be embedded in an object so a user can wield that like a weapon, and many powerful devices are strewn about the world after the Raging and subsequent wars. Sometimes magic can be so strong it is seeping out and any who come by could find themselves imbued.
While it shouldn’t be deemed a fact, something many know is that magic and the Shadow World remain entwined. Essentially, the strongest power lies there, and the more you delve into one, the more you delve into the other. It is a common tale among the most devoted magic-users that some sunk too far and never returned. It is a warning, one that not everyone heeds.
Magic is often something that people wield with natural ability. Magic works like stamina or physical strength, and so it will drain and replenish. But it also involves the mind and there are many in the world who spend a lot of their time studying magic and training their minds. Students of magic will often better those who scream and hurl energy. Focus, intellect, awareness, understanding – these are key factors in the use of magic.
The formula for magic is a simple one. To use magic, you need power, and then you need the will to command it, along with the mental focus to make it do the thing you want. Power, will, mind. Those who have a considerable amount of one often need the others less so, but you always need all three. You can improve them all as well, if you know how. Magic is claimed to be able to do anything anyone wants, if you have enough power, will and know what exactly it is you want it to do. The power side of it often dictates the end result, and the will is there not just to command the magic, but to prevent it from commanding you instead. The mental focus is often the trickiest part. It also typically takes the most time, so many will train themselves to do something specific, which they find easier to focus on. Much like muscle memory, they will work to their own nature and attributes, and perfect a style of magic use that means they can act fast, think later.
When it comes to power, any user must understand one simple and unbreakable rule. Power is given, it varies, but what you get is what you get. You can better your skills and improve your command of it, you can refine techniques and use less in an act, but you cannot raise power itself. Your power is your well to draw on and, while it may be deeper than you first thought, that is all you have. Power cannot be enlarged. Enhanced, yes, but not made more. Think of it as an adult physical body. You can make it more muscular, stretch out the tendons and lose or gain weight, but that’s what you have. You can’t add another head or gain three feet (while some could possibly do this via science, I’m talking in natural terms).
For this reason, many magic-users will seek magical items, or even make their own if they can. The idea is that by pouring power into an item, then it is there to draw on at another time. It is taxing to do and difficult to achieve, and the result will depend on skill, practice and effort, but if a magic-user could create, say, three items that contain power, then those could all be called upon to add to their full strength. Better yet is to find an item or weapon imbued with the power of someone much stronger. Many items will drain and become useless again, but the best either last long or cannot be worn out. It all depends on the power put in and the craftsmanship of the maker. Magical weapons and items can change an individual’s standing in the world. It could also put it at serious risk. There are some cursed items out there, and some that offer more power than almost any can handle.
Most monster types cannot summon magic. Machines cannot either. Most mutants don’t even think to try. Magic is a vital weapon in the human arsenal. When the Shadow World first came and devil-beasts and aegis battled, and sphinx sought influence, and deemi and wraiths and scions and pixies caused mayhem, and dragons did as they pleased, magic seemed like the human race’s doom come to find them. People were in terror of it and that led to many choices later made, and that fear resides in numerous communities still. But magic soon proved useful to them, and also dangerous. Human magic-users fought the monsters, and anyone else they needed to in order to claim a realm for their own. Magic was cast and humans were saved, and other times it turned on the inept user to devastating effect. Magic helped saved humanity, after threatening it, and it remains a danger and a salvation to all. It is craved and feared. It is used and misused. Magic is something that no one can take for granted, and yet here it is, embedded in our world, affecting nature and people and all manner of life.