Cultures of Earth: LME Americas and Elsewhere

In building the LME world, I’ve mostly focused on the U.S. for details, but have considered a few other areas around the world. With that in mind, a few of the elements I’ve worked on:

U.S.
There is no central paranormal government. Every paranormal is effectively on their own, unless they are part of some faction. Most of these factions are local or regional, but a few reach national influence and there are representatives of a few international groups present. Most factions represent an area (Rocklan Square – a commercial area) or particular location (say, a school). Due to the lack of central authority, conflicts and even violence are common to some degree (depends on the area). One exception is the vampires, who generally have very strict, hierarchical, even feudal societies. The elf courts are also relatively organized, but rather insular.

Caribbean
Each island in the Caribbean is unique, but most have factions based on their European colonists or forced African migrants. These factions can be as disruptive as those of the U.S., but each island tends to have a dominant faction that governs the rest and keeps some kind of peace on the island.

Islands
A couple islands don’t fit within the above regions. One actually moves around the world and acts as an independent nation. Another is technically part of North America, but not aligned with the U.S. or Canada, it is a sort of resort set up by people fleeing the conflicts of the U.S.

British Isles, Australia, & Canada
Back before or just after the Romans (sources are unclear), Britain’s mages formed the Royal College of Magic. As they expanded their control, colleges were founded in Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland as well. Each of the four United Kingdoms has one today and Ireland kept its after some argument. Three were set up in Canada and two in Australia during the 17th century. Others were created in India, Hong Kong, and parts of Africa with varying degrees of success. The Royal Colleges are one part educational institutions and one part government. In each nation, non-humans and mage-born govern themselves, but have ties with the Royal Colleges as well (and agreements for the mage-born mages).

Mexico
The Mexican paranormal community is complete chaos. The mages follow the ancient Aztec practice of individual apprenticeships. Every master is paranoid of other masters stealing their secrets and apprentices. The other paranormals follow similar patterns, with few exceptions. Due to their organization, the vampires largely dominate the region.

Egypt
The Egyptians claim to be the oldest magic and paranormal nation on Earth. Thus, the Orders of Thoth that govern all Egyptian paranormals claim to be the oldest continuously running paranormal government. China disputes this, as does at least one Mesopotamian-region government.

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Worlds Within Worlds, After a Fashion: LME “Worlds”

In my current world build, there are three types of worlds existing in symbiosis with each other and connected to Earth.

First, there is Earth. This is basically our world, with the addition of hidden magic and a concealed society of mages and non-humans. It is where the majority of the paranormal populace resides, in theory, and where practically all of the species in the worlds originate. Most of the world is filled by mundanes, average everyday humans with no paranormal abilities or idea about what they share the world with.

Then there are the pocket realms. These are either expanded space or extra-dimensional space, depending on who you ask. They vary widely in size from the bag that can hold more than its exterior size would suggest to the size of mansions. For example, a bag like the D&D Bag of Holding or Hermione’s handbag in Deathly Hallows. Or the wizard tents in Goblet of Fire. Or the Tardis. These are referred to as either pocket realms or minor pocket realms. Mages with enough training can create these fairly easily, the smaller they are the easier to create and the bigger they are the harder and more energy is required.

There are also a number of major pocket realms, or major realms. These were, with a couple notable exceptions, city to continent sized pocket realms believed to be the creations of a mysterious collection of races known as the Precursors. The major realms are the places of legend: Atlantis, Avalon, Mu, Shambhala, Tir na Nog, Yggdrasil. The last is potentially unique as it appears to have created itself. Each has its own nations, cultures, populations, and such. Every major realm is connected to Earth in at least one place, often several or dozens of places. Typically, these are places associated with Faerie or such in folklore, ex. standing stones, mounds, certain groves.

The final “world” is made up of the Orb Lands. These nine worlds, each at least the size of a continent, were created by quasi-sentient artifacts roughly 390,000 years ago. Eight of the lands were directly created by orbs and represent the eight ancient magics (well, eight of the nine since witchcraft was considered a “minor” or “fake” magic back then)–cryptomancy, geomancy, lithomancy, necromancy, sanguomancy, tantromancy, thaumaturgy, and yantromancy. The ninth land, Freeton, seems to have spontaneously appeared and acts like an Orb Land rather than a major realm, but has no orb. Each Orb Land is a self-contained world, but they have connection points to Earth (one each), to Freeton (one each), and to some of the others. Freeton appears to act as a hub between the other Orb Lands, Earth, and possibly the major realms.

So, yes, geographically, this is a bit of a mess, but, I think, a good one.

Witches, Munchkins, and Scarecrows? No: LME Races

On the Earth I’m putting together, there are technically four categories of sentient species. All are native to Earth.

Humans
-Humans: Regular, everyday, normal people.
-Mages: Long lived humans capable of tapping and using magical energy.
-Shifters: Humans capable of changing form into the guise of animals. Class 1 shifters can go human to animal, class 2 have human-hybrid-animal forms, class 3 can assume the shape of any animal.
-Adepts: Humans with just enough talent to store tiny amounts of magical energy and use it for relatively small effects.

Mage-Born
All except goblins and hadeans are immortal.
-Gargoyles: Masters of ley lines and strongly connected to the earth. Known for their patience, stone-tough skin, and sometimes inhuman appearance.
-Goblins: Tusked, pointed eared, human sized beings known for their red and/or blue genetic tattoos. Impulsive and masters of yantromancy.
-Hadeans: Hairless humanoids who look basically human except for the gemstones genetically implanted in their arms, heads, and chests.
-Liches: Body hopping spirits capable of sustaining a stolen body for a decade or two before burning it out. Masters of necromancy, controlling spirits and undead.
-Sirens: Attractive (at least by the individual siren’s standards) human-looking beings, masters of tantromancy.
-Treefolk: Humanoid trees acknowledged as masters of thaumaturgy.
-Vampires: Living human-like beings with fangs, masters of sanguomancy.

Non-Humans
-Centaurs: The classic man-horse hybrids described by the ancient Greeks.
-Dragons: Once fearsome quasi-reptilian beasts, dragons now look human but possess great powers over nature.
-Dwarves: The stout, often subterranean, humanoids found in legends around the world.
-Elflings: The Little People, the source of tales about brownies and other small Fae.
-Elves: The source of tales of the Sidhe and related peoples around the world.
-Giants: A dying race of 10-12′ tall humanoids, being driven to extinction by dwindling habitats.
-Nymphs: Quasi-spirit women bound to natural features (lakes, mountains, groves, trees, streams) around the world, very territorial and starting to share the giants’ problem.
-Satyrs: The male equivalent to nymphs, goat-men described by the ancient Greeks.

Precursors
Long lost collection of species believed by paranormals to have influenced the development of Earth and its cultures as well as creating most of the major pocket realms. They vanished from the world roughly 300,000 years ago (actually closer to 750,000 years ago).

Magic Systems, or Writers are Often Masochistic

Since I’ve strayed from world building and, arguably, writing a bit lately, I thought I’d get back to my recent world build. To set the stage, this is an Earth-based urban fantasy with some high fantasy elements potentially possible. But, the important thing, as per my title, is the magic system(s) I’m developing.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, this world has four types of magic wielding beings:

Mages—basically human, somewhat extended lifespans, and ability to harness and shape magical energy

Mage-Born—once human mages, changed over 600,000 years ago into different species

Adepts—basically human, have some magical talent but not enough to do true magic, they can channel very tiny amounts of magical energy that become concentrated if they remain in the body, e.g. are used on the adept, but are virtually non-existent otherwise.

Non-Humans—Centaurs, Dragons, Dwarves, Elves (Sidhe-ish), Elflings (Little People), Giants, Nymphs, and Satyrs, each species has its own magic abilities.


 

Mages have access to seven different methods of using magic. These are really more techniques or styles than they are different systems. To compare, they are sort of like Rowling’s magic subjects—ex. a Harry Potter wizard can make someone happy via Charms or by getting them to drink a Potion, same effect but different method.

Alchemy—magical chemistry, more or less; the creation of elixirs through mixing myriad ingredients

Cryptomancy—use of words and symbols to focus and direct power

Enchantment—use of magic to permanently imbue objects with spells (versus short term, temporary imbuement that other methods can do)

Hermetic—use of, often complex, tried & true exacting rituals; “scientific magic”

Sorcery—use of a familiar to focus and direct power

Wizardry—use of a specially prepared and attuned staff to focus and direct power

Witchcraft—use of ad hoc rituals and ingredients, often whatever feels right at the moment, never the same ritual twice for any given spell

The mage-born were once human practitioners of some of the oldest forms of magic in real Earth history. Then magic changed, and in the process those mages became something else. They are the only people in the modern world capable of using their specific magics, and they sometimes produce mages of their own (but not adepts). Human mages are, if they can find a teacher, able to learn the basics of these magics, but only the specific mage-born species can go beyond the “apprentice” level.

Geomancy (Gargoyle)—the magic of ley lines and earth

Lithomancy (Hadean)—the magic of gemstones (genetically embedded in hadeans)

Necromancy (Lich)—the magic of spirits and the dead

Sanguomancy (Vampire)—blood magic

Tantromancy (Siren)—sex magic

Thaumaturgy (Treefolk)—the magic of trees and other plants

Yantromancy (Goblin)—tattoo magic (genetic; each goblin is born with specific tattoos)

Adepts are basically wuxia-style chi wielders, except they channel general magical energy not chi/ki.

Non-Humans were never human, still aren’t, and cannot produce offspring with humans. And they each have at least one magic-like ability specific to their species:
Centaur—Brewing (basically beer-based alchemy), Healing (uncommon to rare)

Dragon—Air Control (Eastern), Fire Control (Western), Water Control (Eastern)

Dwarf—Crafting Enchantment (uncommon), Earth Control

Elf—Glamour (illusion)

Elfling—Concealment (easily, magically, hide), Land Connection (sense things about the land)

Giant—Magic Resistance

Nymph—Feature Control (move trees, cause rockslides), Feature Sense (know what happens around associated natural feature)

Satyrs—Emotion Control (music based; fear, panic, desire, etc.)