The world as we know it, Reality, is but one component of the complete and endless world around us, a single piece of a complex system of interconnected parallel universes. This system is the Kaleidoscope, which makes up the endless Dimensional Spectrum, each color another phase, another dimension of the complete world. The Kaleidoscope’s deepest reaches are 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. Reality is what is physically possible, the true, while Fantasy is the impossible, the fake.
All the different realities across the Kaleidoscope exist at different depths, and the deeper one gets, the more the world is subject to flux, impossibility, and physical errors. Some are completely subject to Reality, incapable of breaking free from its laws under normal circumstances, but others, deeper in Fantasy, find that they have the tools to bend physics and its rules. This is magic, the process of manifesting one’s will to alter the world around them, manipulating Fantasy itself to manifest the impossible. The extent to which magic can enact change varies depending on the depth of the universe, but wherever Fantasy exists, Reality will attempt to reassert itself to erase the falsehoods, through a force known as reality pressure. In some worlds, deep inside the Kaleidoscope, however, the rules reverse themself, and Fantasy is the norm against which Reality strives.
With sufficient power and effort, an agent - one that acts or exerts power; a user of magic - can outright break the laws of physics and seize complete 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, even if some universes that tread shallower waters in the Kaleidoscope make it particularly difficult for those who aspire towards it. Magic is amplified by strong emotions, growing more powerful in response to greater need and more intense feelings. As it is influenced by the emotions, beliefs, and desires of people, the ways Fantasy manifests itself within different universes are invariably 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.
The world, whether it be Reality or Fantasy, has no overarching concepts, forms, or universals. Any that seem to exist are merely imposed by another agent for their own purposes. “Concepts” are merely ideas, the categories and viewpoints individuals use to compartmentalize and understand the world around them, and they exist within only the consciousness of these observers. Magic, however, can aid in the manifestation of concepts, and these concepts, reflecting the mindset and beliefs of an agent, affect their magic and how it operates more than anything else. Through magic, one enforces their own perception, and so a battle of magic is not just a fight - it is a clash of individuals and a communication of ideals.
The soul is commonly believed to be the magical manifestation of Fantasy within all things, though this may not be a particularly accurate description. The truest nature of the soul is not known, though many theories exist - some believe it is an inherent and vital part of living things, others believe the soul is parasitic in nature, and some believe that souls and living bodies came together in mutualistic symbiosis. No matter what it is, the soul is central to the usage of magic in those beings and worlds in which it exists. The exact mechanics of the soul vary from universe to universe, from planet to planet, from organism to organism, and even from individual to individual. Because of this, a knowledgeable agent could determine the origin of a soul through simple analysis, but of course, this is easier said than done.
Naturally, the study of the soul is of huge interest in any civilization that has discovered their existence. This study is known as spiritual theory, and its practitioners, spiritual theorists. Those who exercise their spiritual research and work on the most complex level, reaching even the inner world, are also known as inner world operators. Despite the countless years of research that many have put into the soul, there remains no complete theory or understanding, and many outstanding issues in spiritual theory. Compared to the physical world, the soul is abstract and even incomprehensible, anathema to basic physics and operating on completely different laws and ideas.
In most physical beings, such as humans, the soul relies on the body for structure, without which it would dissipate, and is shaped by the consciousness of the organism and whatever acts as their nervous system. As the organism develops, the soul acts as a record for their consciousness, their thoughts, emotions, experiences, and even brainwaves. This process, known as spiritual feedback, is what defines the soul, eventually shaping it to be what is, in essence, an abstract embodiment of the individual, an incorporeal record of their existence. However, for people who don’t use magic, the soul does not really do anything of use, and if one such individual underwent a brain injury that caused amnesia, disability, and/or personality changes, the spiritual feedback would damage the soul and its record.
In agents, however, things are different. The more someone uses magic, the more they enrich their soul. The circuit that their nervous system and soul creates grows, becoming something that the agent can fully utilize, granting them a heightened, extrasensory awareness of the world and an ability to call upon increasingly high levels of magical energy. This is thanks to the soul’s connection to Fantasy, and because of the way it “completes” the nervous system, it also allows for higher levels of thought and information processing. As a result, an agent who survives a life-changing brain injury could retain their memories and original personality.
However, spiritual feedback is not a one-way road, and just as the body can change the soul, the soul can change the body. A person’s emotions, actions, and memories can be controlled through their soul, and catastrophic damage to the soul will take a heavy toll on the body. In the worst case scenario, when an individual’s soul is destroyed, they will drop dead as their nervous system is fried to a crisp, and every other vital system ceases to work as well. Though agents have to worry about this issue just like anyone else, their use of magic allows them to better protect their soul, and even if someone seizes control of their actions, an agent will retain their own consciousness and identity, to some extent.
Despite their stronger connection to their soul, most agents are still dependent on their body. Even if they can retain certain things after brain trauma, that’s only of any consequence if they survive said brain trauma. Without proper precautions and the right set of knowledge, the soul can’t do anything to save the body from a hole in the head or chest. To increase their own survivability, an agent must take the steps to become less dependent on something as flimsy as a body and instead shift their focus to the soul. With the time to expand their knowledge and ability, an agent could potentially survive without food or air and live through injuries that would instantly kill an ordinary human. This is aided through magical processes such as regeneration, along with many other methods. For example, some agents find ways to endure past the death of a body and move onto another as just their soul, seizing control.
But, in the end, most agents still need their body, even if just a little. Even if they could survive having their body incinerated or annihilated, the soul needs a container, and if it goes too long without a body, it will eventually dissipate into nothing. This may take anywhere from just a few minutes to many years - but, still, the soul needs a body. However, through apotheosis, an agent can rise to the level of a god, transcending their body and becoming an immortal existence that has surpassed death.
These agents, which are quite rare, have no need for a container and can exist just as a soul and nothing else - though many choose to stay in their bodies, so as to not wander too far from “humanity” (or whatever analogue). The road to apotheosis is long and complex, requiring vast knowledge of the body and soul, and it is often believed that each person has a different route they must follow to reach it. It is generally thought that achieving apotheosis is necessary to fully access the power of an inner world, as that is the point at which an individual's personal reality is strong enough to stand up against the cruel weight of external Reality.
These ideas and rules only apply to those who exist as a body and a soul - there are many who exist as a purely spiritual existence, such as stray spirits and angels. They cannot be truly said to have achieved apotheosis, as such a thing was never a concern for them anyways. Apotheosis is only relevant to mortals. In addition, souls are not an absolute necessity for life or magic, and there are beings who exist without them, though this has its own set of challenges.
When an individual dies while undergoing intense emotion, they may unknowingly engrave their dying self into their soul, kicking into motion a poorly understood series of processes that will result in the soul temporarily surviving the death of the body. Their soul will become what is known as a ghost, a stray existence kept together only by the intensity of their final moments and emotions.
Ghosts are far rarer than one would expect, and it has been estimated that, on Earth, only one in one million deaths resulted in a ghost. However, this is likely to be wildly inaccurate, as it has been found that many ghosts only survive for a few minutes or hours after death, quickly dissipating into nothing. A few last for days, even fewer for months, and so on. Of course, some argue that the definition of a ghost should only apply to those that persist for a longer period of time.
Unfortunately for ghosts, undeath is often a miserable existence, and many see ghosts as pests, and thus set out to put them out of their misery. Others believe these spirits should be helped, whether this means aiding them in peacefully passing on or giving them a new body to keep them together, and another shot at life. Not even this is bound to be easy for a ghost, however, due to the nature of their existence, as their dying moments will stay with them forever and are likely to have significantly damaged their souls. Future spiritual feedback would become difficult and may operate in strange, unusual ways, leading to things like physical injuries appearing for seemingly no reason.
A particularly unlucky group are the ghosts of children, which rarely survive longer than a day - a child’s ghost surviving for even a year is unheard of, to the point that the idea is laughable. After all, what kind of child has not only the capacity to understand exactly what they’re going through, especially after the trauma of death, but also the willpower to stubbornly persist anyways?
Of course, even if a child’s ghost was able to get a second shot at life and a new body, their soul would not have undergone the complete process of spiritual feedback needed to fully develop. This is without getting into the horrible scars the spiritual trauma would leave, all of which would damage future spiritual feedback. A child’s ghost would be partially suspended in time, incapable of taking the steps to grow all the way and become whole; almost as if they are stuck in their childhood, even as their experiences bring them to adulthood.
Not that that would ever happen.
Grounding is a technique developed by many agents who end up fighting others, which allows them to harm the soul of another being with their attacks, even those attacks that are seemingly purely physical in nature, like a punch. This quickly becomes a necessity in high-level fights between agents as they grow to such a degree that a hole in the chest isn’t much of an issue.
This is done through a variety of methods, but usually comes down to interacting with and hitting the soul simultaneously, something that any practiced agent can do with some effort. However, this is often complicated by various defensive measures, such as simply retracting the soul deeper into the body and moving it to avoid attacks, meaning that grounding is accomplished through a wide number of different tricks and techniques that require different responses. One particularly common method works by reverse engineering spiritual feedback, tricking the soul into damaging itself in response to physical harm.
Clever and powerful agents will almost certainly mix up grounding methods throughout a fight, making their attacks very difficult to properly defend against. The most powerful users of grounding can even destroy a soul that isn’t in their target’s body, either forcing or exploiting the briefest of connections to transfer damage to the spirit. Grounding can also work with any sort of disembodied consciousness or spiritual analogue, and can be used to attack the inner world of a target.
An agent’s “radar” is a set of magical senses that are active by default, acting in order to support their sensory abilities, maintaining a constant, 360° image of their surroundings. This is projected straight into their mind for processing, acting with such greater precision that they can pick up extremely small disturbances and changes even at a great range. These magical senses are much more reliable than any conventional physical senses and won’t all for the same tricks, but novice agents still have a way to go when it comes to developing their radar. They’re still likely to depend on their physical senses, using their radar only for support.
The radar and all the magical senses it covers can pick up on magical phenomena and other things that would normally be invisible or otherwise undetectable. On a high level, an agent can use their radar to determine a target’s general level of power and potentially read their soul and inner world outright, things that must be protected against. Precise radars can also keep track of phenomena on an incredibly small scale, following the motion of subatomic particles and potentially even paying attention on the Planck scale across an area as vast as a galaxy.
Many agents, for whatever reason, believe that apotheosis on its own is not enough, that an individual can perfect themselves even further and transcend their soul, too, becoming a raw conceptual being. Most often, this idea is called simply second apotheosis, although other terms for it exist. Unlike apotheosis, which, while not exactly widespread, is something many individuals reach across the universe, second apotheosis remains something much more theoretical and mysterious. There are those who have transcended their souls, but the methods vary, as do the end results, while apotheosis is much more straightforward once one gets to that point.
One theory that holds second apotheosis in particularly high regard is the theory that souls and other beings were not originally connected at all. Proponents of this theory believe that, as mitochondria evolved from stray bacteria to become part of eukaryotic beings, souls evolved to become integral to the existence of most beings in not just our universe, but all universes. This connection would give the physical a greater connection to Fantasy, while it would give a form and container to the spiritual, allowing them to more easily influence the physical world.
Many who subscribe to this theory thereby believe that bodies die when their souls do because of a placebo (or, more accurately, nocebo) effect; because the individual believes on a deep subconscious level that they would die if this most abstract part of their self was destroyed. This theory says that, eventually, an individual will be able to transcend this aspect of their self and realize that their soul is not necessary. After all, the brain contains all the information that makes up an individual's identity, and a person can be completely changed by driving a pole through their skull.
Of course, theory is theory and practice is practice. While evidence can be pulled up, it has never been anything decisive, and it remains a matter of debate. Even if it were the case, it would not be easy for someone to convince themself that they don't need their soul. Plenty have tried, often even to prove the theory, and plenty have failed. Others have succeeded, but this means nothing; this is the power of a strong will, after all. Sheer force of personality can accomplish anything, as unreasonable as it may be.
Regardless, plenty of beings across the universe have managed to evolve past their souls in some form, becoming soulless beings. Many, but not all definitions of second apotheosis include such beings; the strictest definition is that second apotheosis applies only to those who have fully transcended body and soul to become purely conceptual beings, living ideas that exist only in an abstract form. Such a feat is believed by many to be impossible, but who’s to say?
As with apotheosis, beings who came into existence without a soul cannot be said to have achieved second apotheosis. It is another matter that is simply not relevant to them.
Subconscious Thought Programs
Thanks to their heightened computational power, the soul of an agent can maintain a number of background processes, or subconscious thought programs (known on Earth as daemons) meant to aid in data processing, spellcasting, and other tasks. These programs either run automatically or trigger after certain conditions are met, needing no active management from an agent to function properly. Any agent is bound to naturally develop a set of these, which will help maintain processes like absolute barriers, adaptation, and the effects of ego pressure, but the best example of one is an agent’s radar, which runs at all times. Other, more unique programs may arise over time as an agent’s needs demand, or thanks to their inner world, while many agents create their own daemons to help with certain issues.
A common sight among these assorted artificial daemons are mutation programs, which subtly modify the foundation of an agent’s spells through pseudorandom algorithms. Activating in combat, the mutations produced usually start off irrelevant and inconsequential, but, over time, they’re likely to create a high number of spell variants, none of which are necessarily better. Instead, they’re just different enough to necessitate the production of new counterspells and bypass adapted defenses. Of course, they may mutate into something better after all, but they could also go the other way and get worse instead. Either way, it takes some time for most mutation programs to yield good results, and they’re no substitute for manually improving on spells. Certainly more practical in the middle of a fight, though.
However, not all these programs are beneficial, nor do agents create them only to use on their own soul. Daemons that are installed into a victim’s soul with malicious intent are known as curse programs, and act as a particularly sophisticated form of curse, as implied by the name. These curses draw on a portion of their host’s intellect to maintain themselves, constantly running in the background and either continuously exerting their effects, or waiting for a certain trigger to set them off. Combined with other curse vectors, these curse programs can prove exceptionally potent and very difficult to remove.
Traumatic Spiritual Feedback
Traumatic spiritual feedback occurs when an individual undergoes severe psychological trauma, of the sort that would result in posttraumatic stress disorder, and when the soul, following the same processes as ever, records this damage and its effects. Something that is already detrimental for the brain doesn’t exactly help the soul, either, burning the same fears, memories, and thought processes into the individual’s immortal register. As a result, even if the individual is an agent and even if their brain doesn’t matter to them, psychological trauma can still occur and persist, causing damage to the soul.
However, the soul is a tough thing, and will only grow stronger in the hands of agents. Just as it heals from all injury, the soul can recover from even the worst trauma. Even if the psychological issues it causes remain, the soul will grow hardier, as the strain drives it to heal stronger, the same way it responds to all harm. It is also worth noting that, though it does not fall under the blanket of ‘traumatic spiritual feedback’, the soul will also record other mental disorders, for better or worse.
An individual’s willpower is one of their most important tools when it comes to the usage of magic. It is so important that many other things pale in comparison, as, through sheer willpower alone, an agent could bend and break even the toughest laws and push through even the worst adversity. A strong will is needed to properly control magic, and can be used to call upon greater and greater levels of power and recover from damage faster. Those with strong wills tend to have strong souls, and harming them becomes harder than ever.
An agent’s willpower manifests within their soul as ego pressure, the spiritual equivalent of reality pressure. This acts as the final layer of protection for any agent, lying behind their barriers and gradually working to reverse any harm or unwanted change forced upon the soul, with this effect acting at its strongest within the soul’s deepest reaches. Thanks to ego pressure, an agent can fend off and reject harm even when all their barriers have been stripped away. Ego pressure will not kick in to the same extent in response to self-modification (something called the Egoist Principle), or to consensual changes from another, but it still makes both difficult.
The strength of ego pressure varies depending on the individual and their force of will, and though ego pressure can theoretically gradually reverse anything but death, it’s 100% possible to kill someone before their ego pressure kicks in, with wounds that aren’t so easy to reverse. This can be aided by repression, an ability that allows an agent to ignore their own injuries, suspending their wounds and their effects. While widely-used by those who can pull it off for obvious reasons, as it allows an agent to keep fighting when they would’ve collapsed, or even when they would be dead otherwise, it is extremely difficult to use safely.
Each use of repression is a risk, as these injuries cannot be ignored forever, and it’s not like ego pressure cannot reverse suspended wounds. Even if it takes years, these wounds will eventually reinstate themselves, though this usually occurs the second the threat has passed. This can prove fatal for even agents of the highest caliber, as, suddenly, an entire fight’s worth of injuries spread through their soul all at once. 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, but usually occurs in response to extreme stress and injuries. In such a situation, for such a person, death is generally inevitable, but at least it will be swift. Though repression may be a powerful tool, it cannot fend off anything and everything, and an attack that would be unambiguously and instantly fatal is not something that can be repressed.
Though it may be abstract and immaterial in nature, even the soul has a structure and “anatomy”, with distinct portions that can be researched and better understood. However, the soul does not have any sense of direction or location that can be understood by a normal human, so, oftentimes, a complete description on how exactly the soul comes together is more or less impossible. Still, many parts of the soul have been comprehensively studied.
Formed by ego pressure, the outermost layer of the soul, the distinction barrier, acts as protection for the rest and is what keeps a soul together, though it is not strong enough to do so forever once the soul is outside of a container. Its strength is dependent on the individual’s ‘power’, both magical power and willpower. For normal beings, those who don’t use magic, the distinction barrier provides negligible defense against spiritual attack, and none at all from physical attack. However, an agent is able to exert their distinction barrier to better protect their soul, and even their body, affecting the physical world.
In this state, in the hands of an agent, a distinction barrier often causes a shimmering veil of what seems to be light to appear around them. This is called, among other things, an aura, and it may be faint and colorless, or it may be glowing brightly in whatever color. Going by an aura and distinction barrier, many agents are able to tell individuals apart and recognize them, as these things are often unique and distinctive.
All personal magical barriers are contained in the outermost layer of the soul, alongside the distinction barrier, assisting it in keeping out magical attacks and making it more powerful than ever. Eventually, through continued usage of and exposure to magic, all these barriers will evolve into an even more powerful defense, the absolute barrier. This protects the user from external manipulation and attack, on every level of existence, shielding their body, mind, and soul - their cells and atoms, the magical and physical forces keeping them together, and everything else. It is akin to a magical immune system, protecting the agent from threats and adapting to future attack.
An absolute barrier is passively maintained at all times, even in sleep, requiring no energy to maintain, and can only be removed by another agent actively stripping it away, or by the user consciously lowering them. Punching through or removing an absolute barrier is incredibly difficult, though an agent of vastly greater strength may be able to easily punch through. Over the course of a fight between high-level agents, generally speaking, one or both absolute barriers will eventually give way, allowing the other to directly attack the soul.
For an agent, the soul contains everything that makes them who they are. It stores all their concepts and records every little bit about how they approach and see the world. And because these concepts are central to an individual’s magic, what they are compatible with, and how it turns out, the study of one’s self can be considered the most important subject in magic. For many, self-discovery is an unending process.
On Earth, before the planet was rendered uninhabitable, though this was something that was generally understood, the deepest structure and nature of the soul was not yet known. Many theorized on it, yes, and some even formulated correct theories on the subject. Deep within the soul of an individual is their own personal reality, their complete individual concept, and, with the use of magic, an agent manifests this and defines themself as distinct from the rest of the universe.
An agent is their own contained universe, with space, time, and possibility all their own. No longer do they exist in the past or the present of the universe around them - instead, an agent exists in their own present, and their entire history becomes a part of their existence, freeing them from universal causality. It can be said that, because of this, an agent has gained complete control of their own destiny, and the ability to pursue any future they desire.
Together, an individual’s personal reality and their innermost concepts form their inner world, a representation of everything vital to their existence; their most important memories, the things they value most, their beliefs, their desires, and the way they have lived their life. An inner world has passive effects that manifest within an agent in a way that supports their inclinations and abilities, such as their fighting style, if they are a fighter. They often appear through their magical abilities in some way, amplifying them. An agent needs no knowledge on their inner world to reap these unconscious rewards, but deeper introspection and eventual mastery will heighten their power and utility.
Eventually, if an agent does continue these things, they may gain the ability to fully activate their inner world, which usually implies bringing it into existence as a pocket dimension. This is very difficult to do, as mentioned above, often taking years of work, research, and personal development, but a fully developed inner world is an extremely meaningful and powerful boon for any agent. An incarnate inner world’s environment is determined by its user’s associations and values, representing them in an abstract manner. Often, it is impossible for many agents to unlock their inner world, 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. Apotheosis is generally held to be necessary for the manifestation of an inner world, for example.
All inner worlds reflect the nature of the external, physical world, and cannot be affected or altered so easily as the rest of the soul. Any significant change or harm, will ultimately be rejected by one’s ego pressure, with greater power than usual, just as changes to physics will eventually be reversed by Reality. This, along with the fact that the inner world is the most abstract aspect of one’s self, makes affecting the inner world extremely difficult. Because of this, destroying the strongest souls, those who have unlocked the potential of their inner worlds, is extremely challenging.
This also makes modifying the inner world of others extremely difficult, much harder than simply completely destroying a soul, and even a talented Inner World Operator would struggle to make large-scale changes. They could make changes over time, slightly worsening and exploiting weaknesses, but it would take a ludicrously skilled Inner World Operator to fully rewrite another inner world. Even then, it would take, at the very least, hours of hard work, if not years, and it’s difficult to predict what kind of person would result from the new inner world. Self-modification and consensual modification are still easier, but working with inner worlds will never not be difficult and risky.
Magic is the process and 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, an agent 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 agents, 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 agents possessing the power 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 agents 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.
This type of magic is the second of four phases in the development of magic, used to measure both the progression of a society’s grasp on magic, and an individual’s.
- Unconscious Phase: The first phase, when magic is used unknowingly and unintentionally. This is when people only just start discovering magic and begin using it without thinking, without meaning, just as a side-effect of their thoughts and desires. This is unpredictable and uncontrollable, entirely inconsistent in nature.
- Ritual Phase: The second phase, when knowledge of magic is present, and systems are in place to make use of it. At this stage, it’s much easier to control, and is also much more predictable, which can be a mixed bag. Incantations, rituals, and artifacts are the name of the game here, and those who use this magic have a limited pool of spells, which take time and research to expand on.
- Post-Ritual Phase: The third phase, sometimes considered merely an intermediary between the ritual and lucid phases. Now, while the use of rituals remains necessary in some form, the agent has reached a point when they can rely on pure magic as much or more than ritual magic. Spells can be devised on the spot and when under pressure, for example.
- Lucid Phase: The fourth and final phase of magic development, an extreme rarity in the world, assuming it’s even possible at all. At this point, rituals are more or less unnecessary, though may remain in some vestigial form, and only pure magic is needed. With the knowledge that the world is purely subjective, the lucid agent does not need specific, pre-established spells, only creativity and willpower.
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 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 channeling 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 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.
- Array Realignment: The user can perform rapid, minute changes to an opponent's soul to interfere with the flow of magical energy and emotion, making magic more difficult to use and control. With a bit more focus, they can perform more extensive modifications, surgically realigning an opponent's spiritual network to interfere with its functions as much as possible. This can make magic nearly impossible to use, and may have deadly side effects if the pathways are altered to lead to vulnerable parts of the soul.
- Ego Compress: The user can intensify the ego pressure their soul emits, allowing it to reassert their personal reality more easily, heal faster, and prevent attempts at soul manipulation. It can also more violently counter such attempts if the user suddenly ramps up the pressure just as an opponent reaches inside. This will likely sever, if not completely annihilate, a portion of the invader’s consciousness, whichever bit got cut off inside. It can potentially even destroy physical things, such as limbs and weapons, if it catches them.
- Ego Stabilizer: The user can project a barrier into their inner world, or another person’s, to provide protection and keep it stable in a pinch. This barrier takes the shape of the subject’s personal reality and patches up any holes, allowing the subject to escape death and heal properly when in dire straits. It can also be used to block attacks, but it is best utilized for healing purposes and preventing an ego collapse.
- Inner World Extraction: An expert Inner World Operator can neatly dissect an opponent and pull out their inner world, leaving them to die. This is always lethal, and it is possible to preserve these inner worlds for research purposes by freezing them in time.
- Null Operation: The ability to spiritually operate on beings without souls. Such entities aren't exactly rare, but they unsurprisingly function differently, requiring any Inner World Operator to have a specialized set of knowledge and experience if they want to be able to dissect them normally.
- Spiritual Profiling: Thanks to a familiarity with the soul, a user can come up with a detailed and generally accurate profile of another individual’s soul and its composition just by spending time around them and analyzing their actions. It’s even more effective in combat, during which the user can come to conclusions on her opponent’s inner world based on their magic, how it functions, and how it’s used. This is far from foolproof, but any profile will be refined over time, becoming more and more accurate and laying the foundation for future analysis and attack.
- Paracosm Phantasmagoria: The pinnacle of hallucinatory magic, an illusion that inverts the inner world rather than merely fool around with any of its target’s conventional senses. This draws them into their own consciousness and traps them within, a combination of an illusion and seal, allowing the user to peruse their memories or put them out of their misery. As long as the spell is active, the victim is subject to a perfect illusion that can draw upon all their thoughts, memories, wishes, and fears to replicate the outside world.
The user has complete control of the specifics; the illusions can be complex, realistic, and subtle, acting over the course of what feels like lifetimes, or nightmarish, seemingly impossible fever dreams. They can make victims relive parts of their lives, or potentially the whole thing, show other possible outcomes, create completely false scenarios, control their actions and force them to follow an unpleasant “script”, or concoct various scenes that acknowledge their unreality but subject the victim to perfectly lifelike torture anyways. They can alter their perception of time during this illusion as well, with the greatest making them experience what is just moments in reality as years upon years of falsehoods.
Even if the victim knows it’s an illusion, breaking out without outside help is so difficult that it’s nearly impossible. Magic can be barred with ease, and the user can control any magic that they let through anyways. Analyzing the spell while under its effects is extremely challenging, and the user can stomp out such thoughts anyways. If their opponent does escape the illusion, they are likely to unknowingly be caught in another layer, of which there are many.
As these illusions are realized within the inner world of a victim, the fundamental, conceptual basis of their existence, their effects are reflected in full force on both their body and soul. While normal illusions can harm the victim through shock or suggestion, Paracosm Phantasmagoria can do so outright and can kill them with ease. All the energy needed for the illusion is derived from the victim themself, and the strain of this alone can be lethal.
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.
- Aeon: A meditation art used by angelic leaders for the sake of observing and guiding large groups of angels, particularly during battles. By concentrating and entering a meditative state, the user can cast their awareness across a cosmic distance, even into other realms, observing events so accurately it’s as if they’re actually there.
- Eight Ends: A technique that focuses on disabling an opponent’s senses to leave them helpless, channeled through the user’s attacks. The senses it deactivates are not limited to the five senses of the body, and include a target’s self-awareness, memories, and even their consciousness itself. As agents rely on magical sensing and their own thoughts more than their conventional five senses, a magic limited to these things would be useless, so Eight Ends targets the foundation of things and disables them as well. The deactivation of all an opponent’s senses leads to a comatose state that leaves them incapable of acting or thinking, though agents with powerful defenses can resist these effects, and those with highly developed souls and enough power can act unconsciously in such a state, relying on muscle memory and instinct alone. Few opponents are competent like this. The true power of Eight Ends does not aim to deactivate senses, however, but to destroy them, ultimately seeking to destroy an opponent by completely erasing their consciousness and sense of self.
- Kinesis Circuit: A defensive technique popular among angels, which they can use to transmit the energy of any attack directed at them through their soul and back to the sender with 100% efficiency. Doing so requires perfect precision and subtlety, and the technique can be thrown off entirely by the slightest miscalculation, allowing damage to slip through. It is also vulnerable to more subtle and abstract forms of attack, such as Inner World Operation.
- Natural Reasoning: A deep understanding of Logos’ functions and a sense for its use, developed over the course of many years of experience. Thanks to this knowledge, the practitioner can accurately predict how opponents will use it and react appropriately, even when it’s exercised on a massive scale and in huge quantities.
- Synchronize Self: Using Logos, the user can humbly minimize their own ego, identity, and presence to such an extreme degree that they fade from all senses. It is as if the universe itself fails to notice them as every sign of their existence vanishes, meaning that even on the smallest scale, matter simply does not react to their motions and they become completely intangible and invisible, eluding magical senses as well. In this state, the user can move around as much as they want, but attacking will blow their cover.
- Luminous Fist: The existence of those who have truly mastered Logos and reached a level that not even Yaldabaoth reached in life - the transcendence of thought and action. At this level, the user does not stand on the level of other, lesser martial artists or agents, but stands above, with a pure, thoughtless consciousness that cannot be clouded by indecision, fear, or confusion. It is not something that has to be activated and automatically comes into play once the user starts fighting.
In combat, the user has no need for conscious thought or intentions as not just their body, but all of their existence, acts on their supernatural instinct. As opposed to thinking out their movements, the user subconsciously takes in all of their opponent’s actions and unconsciously reacts. This allows the user to easily intuit the perfect way to dodge every attack and how to respond. At this level, thoughts are only an accessory to martial arts, and are unnecessary to show the full extent of one’s skill.
Though this state can be described as “thoughtless”, the user is still thinking while using the ability, just extremely quickly and without being disturbed by any mental defilement. They remain fully capable of analyzing opponents and their abilities, processing large amounts of information, and performing complex calculations. These things actually become even easier than before due to the user’s absolute unconscious focus. However, it does not make their consciousness superfluous, and can potentially be disturbed by a strong enough attack on the user’s mind.
- Zero Heart: Existence in nonexistence. The ultimate goal of Logos, even if it wasn’t one that Yaldabaoth was aware of. Every use of Logos will slowly - very slowly - lead to this result, but it cannot be reached through the mastery of Logos alone. To transcend one’s soul and become nothing, one must discard their desires and their sense of self. Of all those who have ever used Logos, only Mastema and Raphael have ever reached this state. Through Zero Heart, the user no longer has a soul, and all the fixtures that would be a part of their soul instead exist within the nothingness that is their body. As nothingness, they become deathless, yet simultaneously transient, embodying the ultimate nature of Logos. That is, righteous self-sacrifice.
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.
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 back up their processing power by connecting themself to distant portions of space and time, essentially transforming portions of the space-time continuum into supportive processing units. Through this technique, they can greatly compress even the largest banks of information without losing any data, allowing for much, much faster processing and vast storage space.
- Bit Contraction / Expansion: The user can change the length of actions, either increasing or decreasing the amount of time it takes to perform a certain action. For example, they can make instant attacks take a quantifiable amount of time, or do the opposite to have one of their attacks occur instantly. Or they can infinitely extend the amount of time it takes for an opponent to move or think, leaving them helpless.
This can be used to extend the amount of time it would take a dying person to pass on and truly die, and the user can use it on themself in such a situation, but not to such a degree that death could be staved off through that alone. It will inevitably catch up, faster and faster, without medical attention. They could also do the opposite to ensure someone dies faster.
- Dimensional Sequester: The operator lashes out at the universe around them with stunning precision, severing spatiotemporal bonds to separate a chunk of reality from the rest. This is all to trap an opponent and force a fight, as escape through physical means is impossible, and the user can adjust things to prevent transdimensional teleportation as well.
- Fantasy Suppression: The user can replicate and even control reality pressure, the anti-magical force exerted by Reality in response to Fantasy. Doing this through magic seems paradoxical, but without Fantasy, reality pressure would not exist - it is a symptom, not a natural function. The user achieves this feat through unbelievably fast and precise usage of World Operator, quickly reasserting Reality to cancel out magic used against them with the full, crushing force of possibility.
- History Falsification: The agent can insert actions into the past and future of both the universe and their own soul, even doing so with opposing inner worlds if given the chance. They typically do so to manifest successful attacks on their part, creating them in the past or future as an immutable fate, though they can also use it to retroactively prevent attacks that they can’t heal normally.
- Hyper Singularity: Using World Operator, the agent can deform both space and time to create a black hole, an area with such great gravity that even light cannot escape. Once someone is past its event horizon, thanks to this gravity, escape is extremely difficult through any means. Space itself curves so that every path leads back to its center, the singularity, and not even time escapes its influence.
A victim can potentially escape through magical means, but it is much easier said than done, especially as a black hole’s crushing tidal forces are enough to overwhelm and cancel out magic. If one hasn’t been torn to ribbons by this, the singularity itself will almost certainly end things, exposing victims to a crushing dose of Reality and compressing them into a single, infinitely small point.
- Judicator: The agent can manipulate physics to control and create laws, applying them over a wide area, both magical and physical laws, which they can tailor for their own benefit. Any attempt to go against these laws is impossible without using magic to twist and break them, just as it is impossible to go against the laws of physics.
- Multiplicative Onslaught: By manipulating arithmetic, the user can literally multiply their own attacks, turning a single strike into two, or ten, or even a hundred, all of which happen simultaneously. This allows the user to push their offense further and further, while overwhelming any defenses through sheer volume of attacks. In an instant, they can create a wall of hundreds, thousands, millions, or even billions of attacks, annihilating most defenses in this same moment.
- Phase Shift: The user operates on surrounding space to compact, introduce, and/or remove dimensions, allowing them to vastly expand their field of movement while limiting their opponents’. Through this, the user can control their own dimensional structure, taking on new dimensions to move in a variety of impossible ways and attack from many newly-formed angles at once, while shedding them to avoid retaliation. Particularly skilled users can even control temporal dimensions in this way.
This also inhibits opponents, as the user can divert their attacks to other dimensions, and they can even collapse these dimensions to shrink things down to the Planck scale. Or they could simply erase them and leave nothing behind.
- Supertasking: By exploiting World Operator to manipulate time over and over, the user can carry out supertasks, executing an infinite sequence of actions in a finite period of time. Each step is executed in half the time it took to perform the last, allowing them to finish whatever task by the time the second has passed. Even when it would seem impossible and an end state would be impossible to predict, the user can reject any paradox, overriding reality pressure, and determine the result.
- Rationalize Heart: An unusual, highly complex and unique application of World Operator, used by those who can completely disregard emotions and focus only on the physical. It allows a World Operator to process souls and inner worlds as physical quantities and mathematically model them, turning them into something that can be concretely measured and visualized rather than the properly abstract objects they are.
The agent can then use World Operator to interface with and manipulate a soul as if it were the physical universe around them, applying the laws of physics to something that normally rejects them. It is an emulation of Inner World Operation, one that is far from perfect, being poorly suited to the more precise changes required in true soul surgery. Compared to a true Inner World Operator, a user’s efforts are clumsy, and bound to do more harm than good.
As useful as this ability is, it cannot perfectly translate the soul, even with vast knowledge on physics backing it up. However, due to its unusual vectors, opponents used to fighting Inner World Operators will be incapable of defending against these soul-directed attacks in the same way. This also functions on a much higher and more complex scale than simply targeting a soul with magic that affects physics - it forces the soul to comply with them.