The world as we know it, base Reality, is but one component of the complete world around us, a single piece of a complex system of interconnected parallel universes. The infinity of possibilities that make up the multiverse are connected by the foundation of Fantasy, born from the thoughts, imaginations, dreams, emotions, and ambitions of beings across every infinity. A “space” that doesn’t exist in a comprehensible way, Fantasy exists as the desire for change and impossibility throughout all things.
All beings can realize Fantasy within themselves in the form of magic, which allows them to manifest their will to bend the world around them. With sufficient power and effort, a mage can warp reality and accomplish the impossible, breaking the laws of physics and seizing control of their own fate. The potential for magic exists everywhere and within everything, and can be sought out and taken by any who can make an effort. The multiverse’s many worlds are all saturated with varying amounts of Fantasy, though Reality rejects it no matter where it arises, fighting against and eventually undoing its effects.
As it is influenced by the emotions, beliefs, and desires of people, the ways Fantasy manifests itself within the universe are inevitably affected by how people perceive and think about the world. The world is, in many ways, not only defined, but controlled by those who perceive it, and by how they perceive it.
This subjective world has no overarching abstracts or concepts existing throughout it; the only concepts are those that exist within the minds and souls of all who exist. All people compartmentalize all the things they see in the world and form their own concepts over time, gradually forming their own ideas on the world. These concepts are the basis of a soul’s development, and understanding them is an important element of magic.
Every mage calls upon and utilizes their own concepts of the world in magic. One’s perception of the world and of themself is pivotal in their magic, affecting it more than anything else. The types of magic that a person is most suited to are determined by their thoughts on the world and the concepts they hold within, and it is by enforcing this perception on the world that magic is utilized. A battle of magic is not just a fight - it is a clash of individuals and a communication of ideals.
And such is the nature of the world, a subjective world defined by those within it.
The soul is not only the magical manifestation of Fantasy within a person, and of their self within Fantasy. It is the embodiment of a person’s willpower and magic, and it forms within them over time. It is closely connected to a person’s mind, as it stems from their consciousness. As each soul is shaped by the many experiences and defining moments of a person’s lifespan, the structure of each individual soul is unique to that person. The mechanics of the soul differ not only from organism to organism, but individual to individual.
Nature of the Soul
Generally speaking, souls are contained within the shell that is the body - whether the body is of conventional physical matter, or something magical is irrelevant. While the vast majority of all beings have a soul, its existence is not necessary for the use of magic. It is only a vessel of Fantasy, and in its place, a being can mold and use their own body. Souls make magic much easier, however, as they possess potentially infinite room to contain concepts and energy and easily form efficient pathways.
In most cases - without extensive magical work and a strong willpower - the existence of the soul is dependent on the body and mind for structure and guidance. Without a body to keep it together and a mind to give it direction, the soul will eventually fall apart and disperse, following them into death. A body without a soul doesn’t fare much better most of the time, as the loss of their connection results in the traumatic destruction of the body’s consciousness and loss of their identity.
Once, souls were not a natural part of life, and their functions were instead operated through a being’s own body. Souls were formed from latent Fantasy over time, condensing into barely conscious beings. Over time, these souls spread across the universe and latched onto conscious beings, forming a symbiosis. While those conscious beings would give them shape, the souls would give them an easier medium to channel magic. This symbiosis only grew deeper over time, and ultimately, bodies and souls developed the seemingly inseparable existence they possess now, with souls growing to be shaped by their hosts.
Souls are the foundation of a person’s self and identity, and as an individual grows and their emotions course through their soul, their soul develops alongside their body. It reaches relative maturity at about the same rate as the body. The soul, like all Fantasy, thrives on intense emotions. While they may grant a significant boost to magic, such intense emotions tax the soul, exhausting an individual, and extremely powerful or lengthy emotions may cause severe harm to the soul.
Even after the soul recovers, it will still be somewhat tender until it is able to fully recuperate. However, such experiences only serve to strengthen a soul, straining it and making it heal stronger and faster, just as one’s body responds to exercise.
For this reason, traumatic experiences tend to have a profound effect on one's soul, scarring it deeply. As trauma is something that can never be truly, completely overcome, a soul can never rid itself of the deep scars which it causes, but they tend to be conductive to the use of magic, providing efficient pathways to spellcasting that will be molded into one's magical array if they have one. Even still, though the scars remain, the soul will reconstruct itself stronger, regardless of whether or not the individual feels stronger.
Defense and Survival
The outermost layer of the soul acts as a protective layer that shields the rest of the soul from harm and attack. This is often called a distinction barrier, though many other terms for it exist. A distinction barrier helps to keep a soul together, like a shell. Its strength depends on the individual’s willpower and magical strength, and it is instrumental in keeping a soul in one piece for long as possible after death.
While the distinction barriers of normal beings are generally far too weak to offer any notable defense against physical or magical attacks, powerful mages form very strong barriers, strong enough to protect them from magical harm and even affect the physical world to protect them from physical harm as well. In this state, a distinction barrier often becomes visible as what is often called, among many other things, an aura; it may be faint and colorless, or it may be easily visible and glowing brightly. All personal magical barriers, protection and defenses are located within the distinction barrier, making it even stronger.
Eventually, through enough magical work and willpower, this barrier is enhanced to such a level that it keeps out most attempts at physical or magical attack and manipulation. At this point, it is known as an absolute barrier. It protects them on every level of existence, and is akin to a magical immune system, protecting the mage from threats and adapting to future attack.
One of the most important parts of a soul is willpower, and a strong concept of self. Those with strong wills recover from spiritual damage much more quickly, in addition to being considerably more capable when it comes to the use of magic. Having a stronger soul tends to be associated with becoming a stronger, more willful mage, as one's willpower is extremely important in the control of magic.
Together, willpower and a strong concept of self protect the soul, making the individual harder and harder to kill. This strength stretches to every part of the soul, so such mages can resist magical effects through sheer willpower, even when the rest of their defenses would be stripped away. Those mages with high willpower can maintain their souls after the death of their body, allowing them to find or create a new one.
When a non-mage dies while undergoing intense emotion, they will often become what is known as a ghost. Ghosts are not an existence distinct from a soul - instead, they are more of a state that a soul can exist in. Their soul and its distinction barrier are kept together by the intensity of their final emotions in conventional life, and depending on the circumstances, they may only last a couple of seconds before they let go of their emotions and let their soul drift apart. Many ghosts, however, last for much longer, often decades, if not centuries.
When an individual uses magic for the first time, the action marks the entirety of their soul and brands them as a mage, a wielder of Fantasy. This mark takes the form of a complex series of pathways in their soul, through which they channel magic through their emotion and drive. This system is referred to as a magical array. No two individuals have the same magical array; each individual's magical array develops differently, similarly to and in conjunction with their soul.
When a mage first manifests their array, they are typically left drained for some time afterwards, and their array is somewhat sensitive. The more a mage uses magic, the more their array develops, spreads and strengthens. A stronger magical array means faster, more powerful spellcasting is possible, and more passive spells can be easily maintained. However, one’s magical array can be burnt out and damaged by overuse of magic, which is much more likely when the user is feeling intense emotion. Disuse, on the other hand, leads to an array gradually weakening, though it will never disappear.
Still, a magical array will recover from harm over time, becoming hardier and stronger. Intensely emotional mages often develop redundant pathways, allowing them to keep up the use of high-level magic even when under extreme emotional strain for long periods of time, though such a feat would almost inevitably bring them near death.
The soul contains everything that makes up an individual’s existence, and all of their concepts. Their soul reflects the perceptions of the world, and contains all of their ideals and their concepts of it. Applying these concepts to the world is central to the use of magic, as is working to understand one’s soul, its construction, and its concepts. Ultimately, the most important research in any mage’s life is their unending mission to understand themself and master their magic.
With the use of magic, a mage defines themself as distinct from the rest of the universe, forming their own personal reality, or complete individual concept. They effectively become their own contained universe, with space, time, and possibility all their own. They cease to exist in the past or future of the rest of the universe, existing in their own present. Their entire history becomes a part of their existence, separate from the space and time of the universe, while they are freed from universal history, allowing them to pursue any future they desire. Through magic, a mage can be said to have complete control of their own destiny.
Together, a mage’s personal reality and their innermost concepts form their inner world. An inner world is the ultimate manifestation of any person, even those with no magical ability. It contains their innermost desires and beliefs, and the concepts that burn strongest within their soul. An inner world can be brought into existence as a pocket dimension of sorts, existing within yet without its user. However, doing such a thing is highly difficult. Not only does it require an exceptionally well-developed soul and concepts and a strong enough willpower, one must know themself well enough.
Often, it is impossible for many mages, as they have simply not had the experiences needed to acclimate their soul for such a purpose. These experiences differ based on person to person, as do the inner worlds themselves. As with the rest of the soul, they differ wildly for every individual, and when brought into Reality, can have any number of effects, though they tend to have a fairly limited range, limited to the concepts of the individual they’re embodying.
As most mages who participate in combat are more dependent on their soul than they are their physical body, most combat mages develop the ability to harm both the body and soul simultaneously with their magic, allowing them to kill other mages without worrying about their souls escaping. Even then, no single part of a soul is more important than any other, and the strongest, most willful mages could potentially exist as the smallest fraction, though this would cause them severe, long-lasting (if not indefinite) spiritual wounds. Similarly, mages learn to heal spiritual damage more quickly, and most magical healers heal both the body and soul.
In combat, many mages learn to make use of repression, an advanced magical technique in which, through sheer force of will, the user essentially ignores their injuries, suspending the effects of their wounds. While widely-used for obvious reasons, as it allows one to keep fighting even when they should’ve collapsed, it is incredibly risky and difficult to use safely. These injuries cannot be simply ignored forever, after all, and will eventually reinstate themselves, often once the threat has passed.
This can prove fatal for even the most experienced mages, as an entire battle’s worth of severe injuries suddenly spread through their soul. Most allow the injuries to trickle down once they’re prepared to deal with them and rest so that they can properly heal. However, there are those who are too stubborn to confront their spiritual trauma, and constantly repress it, allowing the injuries to steadily accumulate, until the dam breaks and they all flood out at once. This can happen out of nowhere, or in response to more extreme stress and injuries. When the dam breaks for such a person, death is generally inevitable.
Even the most powerful repression cannot stave off an attack powerful enough to be instantly and unambiguously lethal.
Destruction of the soul is not simply destruction. It is the erasure of everything that encompasses an individual. Their memories, experiences, beliefs, concepts, emotions, and magic. Attacking a soul is attacking everything that makes up the individual, and destroying it is the collapse of the self and everything it represents.
Magic is the science of researching, understanding, and utilizing the Fantasy within a person’s self to bend the universe to one’s will. While it may be separate from conventional science, magic is still, in the end a science, as it is built around observing and understanding the world around you - and then, applying your knowledge to change it.
In itself, magic is not a force - it is the truest expression of one’s desires and willpower through Fantasy, the world inside us as opposed to Reality, the world around us. While it’s not necessary for the use of magic, scientific knowledge and an understanding of Reality and its laws make the full use of magic easier. Although the existences of Reality and Fantasy are opposites, they are opposites that exist within each other, and magic can be used to fill in the gaps that conventional science cannot, and vice versa.
When you better understand something, it is easier to control and manipulate, to bend it in new ways and change the world. The greater your knowledge on the world, the greater the depth and your versatility of the magic. Of course, knowledge is not absolutely necessary for magic, but it helps a lot. Without it, a mage has to rely more on forcing the world to comply with anything they want, which is considerably less efficient and versatile.
Magic can bend the laws of the universe and decide fate in significant ways. A simple desire of “I want this person to die” can kill a target outright when put to use in magic with sufficient intent behind it, simply ending the possibility for life in all of its forms, though for less experienced mages, this is incredibly difficult and inefficient. It would be easier to induce physical death death by stopping the target’s heart or through similar means, or bending causality and probability to guide the victim’s fate towards their death. Similar applications can be utilized to realize nearly any goal, with the strongest of mages being able to manipulate all of the universe’s forces and toy with even the past and future.
Systems of Magic
In its true form, magic just happens. Once one has decided how it will be used, they simply will the effects into reality. There is no magical force, unlike the fundamental physical forces - magic occurs because someone's will has made it that way. However, in this form, pure magic is incredibly hard to use, control, and direct, requiring focus and a strong will.
In its place, most mages channel magic through certain systems designed to better control it. It is simply much, much easier to control magic when using gestures, incantations, rituals, and objects, which greatly aid in focusing the powerful intent behind magic. It’s not that pure magic is not useable - it certainly is, and it can be used competently during combat. It just takes a lot of energy and focus, making channeled magic easier.
There are many, many systems of magic from Earth alone, let alone from all around the world, and each can be effectively used to channel nearly any magical effects. These many systems of magic include the following:
Origin: Earth (Europe and the Middle East)
Alchemy is a widespread system of magic on Earth, ostensibly devoted to the study and manipulation of matter. Primarily focused through chemical equations and reactions, it has been traditionally been used to manipulate chemical processes and matter, but it is a versatile, deep system of magic. Symbols and ciphers are also often used to channel magic. Over the course of many centuries, it has greatly grown in depth and complexity, splitting into many other, more specific branches.
Throughout Earth’s history, alchemists have been notoriously secretive about the nature of their studies, but over time alchemy has only become more widespread, becoming a fairly common course in magical studies that has had most of its secrets laid bare for the world.
In truth, classical western alchemy is the pursuit of apotheosis, the elevation of the alchemist to the level of the gods. All the talk of transmutation, metals and elixirs are only red herrings, layers upon layers of symbolism that hide the true goal of absolute personal perfection. A “true” alchemist seeks to transcend their body to become an immortal magical existence that has surpassed death, though such schools have become rarer over time, and many more modern alchemists have instead focused on the more literal side of things.
Almagest is a magical martial art that is channeled through the motion and positioning of celestial bodies. By connecting themself to the celestial firmament of the universe, the user gains a heightened cosmic awareness that allows them to make the full use of Almagest’s techniques and call upon the magic in the universe. In Almagest, the vector used for magic are not symbols, but the motions of celestial bodies, and the movements of the user themself. Due to this, Almagest is incredibly complex and very difficult to master, with high-level techniques requiring a complicated series of movements to be executed perfectly.
One of the most commonly used applications of Almagest is channelling the motion and rotation of celestial bodies into attacks. Almagest can also be used to emulate flight by subtly manipulating gravitational forces. Despite its complexity, Almagest is an art that sprouts in most universes in some form, as is it is simply incredibly useful for any star spirit.
Inner World Operator
The inversion of World Operator - rather than the magic of world programming, Inner World Operator is instead directed inwards, focusing on programming souls and, as implied by the name, inner worlds. It is a magic no less complex than World Operator, necessitating extensive knowledge of spiritual mechanics to utilize, but in turn, grants an immense amount of power over the soul.
This is an incredibly difficult magic to master and explore, one that requires extensive experimentation, typically one’s own soul or those of others. Such research is generally extremely agonizing and damaging, if not potentially fatal, and so there are few who truly understand its full applications - mastering it requires dedication, even if they know certain spells.
Inner World Operator Spells and Techniques:
Notable Users: All angels
Logos is a heavenly martial art, system of magic, and philosophy developed by Yaldabaoth and spread throughout Heaven. Dedicated to controlling the totality of one’s being and using it in its entirety in combat, Logos is an instinctive fallback for angels, who have its foundation programmed into them. Logos works by clearing the user’s mind, sweeping away their emotions and identity for a time so that they can better focus on combat, making it difficult for angels to form stable identities and properly process emotions. As they generally lack any strong identities or emotions by default, angels are incredibly well-suited to the use of Logos.
With this supernatural concentration and the powerful will behind it, Logos revolves around transcending physical attacks and instead relying on pure magical attacks. The user simply wills that their target is struck, and they are, by an instantaneous force with no physical component. These cannot be responded to by normal means, instead requiring magical defenses and accurate predictions to counter them. In combat, a user utilizes both physical and pure magic, so an opponent must defend themselves on both a physical and magical level at once.
Logos Spells and Techniques:
Origin: Earth (Germanic countries)
Notable Users: EQUINOX
Runic magic is one of the better known schools of magic on Earth, with the earliest forms originating in Germanic territories far in the past, for use as both an alphabet and a system of magic. It centers around the usage of runes, specific symbols with specific effects carved into a surface, prepared beforehand, to realize a number of magical effects. The usage of runic tattoos for easy, faster spellcasting or passive effects is fairly common.
Every runic alphabet functions differently, magically speaking, though some are more similar to others. This is if there’s any magical application at all, at least, as some are really just alphabets. There are many different branches of runic magic as a result, with some diverging far from others in structure. All are descended from Elder Futhark in some form or another, even if some are completely different in form and function.
Origin: Earth (China)
Notable Users: EQUINOX
Tao Chiao refers to the religious practices and rituals associated with the philosophy of Taoism (or Daoism), which very often strayed into the territory of magic. Tao / Dao refers to “the Way”, and Taoism is centered around existing in harmony with the natural flow of the universe. Often referred to as Chinese or Taoist alchemy, Tao Chiao has much in common with western alchemy, including a similar focus on individual perfection and apotheosis.
The alchemical practices of Tao Chiao are split into two main methods of practice, waidan, or external alchemy, and neidan, or internal alchemy. Waidan is the art of alchemical operations and preparations, revolving around the creation of chemical elixirs and compounds, while neidan focuses on cultivating a healthy body and soul through meditation and breathing exercises in the pursuit of immortality.
Tao Chiao Spells and Techniques:
- Shukuchi: A Taoist pseudo-teleportation technique that allows the user to subtly manipulate spatial relations and distance so that they can travel even great distances in a single step. While much simpler and easier to use than true teleportation, it becomes more and more imprecise the greater the distance and suffers similarly in close quarters.
Notable Users: EQUINOX
Developed by Aleister Crowley after his revelation in 1904, Thelema revolutionized much of Earth’s modern understanding of magic. Not just a magical system but a philosophy, Thelema states that all individuals are unique and have their own paths, and that they should follow their True Will, the overall motivation of their existence. That way, they’d be free to realize their own ambitions, and shouldn’t interfere with the paths of others. Thelema’s most important law is Love, and that all will reunite with their true self within love. Thelema also divides human history into “Aeons” named after the Egyptian gods, with the Aeon starting during the 20th Century being the Aeon of Horus.
Of course, these beliefs differ from individual to individual, as all Thelemites are encouraged to follow their own beliefs. Taking elements from many religions and other, older systems of magic, Thelemic magick is based around many complex rituals and incantations, and is meant to help its users along their path. Also greatly relevant to magic are certain sacred numbers given great magical significance.
A somewhat loose system that refers to magic that exerts influence on such a scale that the fabric of the universe acts as its canvas - the magic of world programming. Magic on such a high level is extremely advanced, lying only in the hands of the most skilled and knowledgeable practitioners, who use this mastery of magic to reach into reality and bend space, time, physics, probability, quantum mechanics, and mathematics to their will.
Heaven’s universal cloud of data, Yesod, was born from such a magic, and thus anyone who uses it will eventually dip into World Operator’s territory, with Yesod itself becoming just another canvas to program and reprogram the universe, an interface of sorts.
World Operator Spells and Techniques:
- Akashic Record: With this spell, a user can repurpose unused and distant parts of the space-time continuum to backup their processing skills, effectively warping portions of space and time into supercomputers with which they can record and process information at incredibly rapid speeds. Through this technique, it is possible to compress even the largest banks of information into infinitesimally small bytes without losing any data, allowing for much, much faster processing and essentially infinite storage space.
- Eternity Seal: The spellcaster bends space and time and engulfs their opponent within the fabric of the universe, trapping them within its “underside”, the unused parts of space and time.