Copyright © 1994 Chris Gonnerman
Distributed under the Open Content License version 1.0

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The Nature of Magic

As described in the Magic rules, there are three sources of magic energy. One source, Universal Energy, is of primary importance to understanding much of the following.

Universal energy infuses all matter in the universe. However, as spells are cast using this power, the amount in the local area is slowly but inevitably diminished. Some of the earliest spell casters did not understand this, leading to their eventual demise.

Life creates and uses magical energy all the time. Even the lowliest plants, even bacteria, create magical energy in small amounts. When a life form dies, the energy stored within it becomes Universal in nature, adding slightly to the magical field of the local area.

Naturally, this means that rain forests normally have the most Universal energy, while deserts have the least. Areas inhabited by Man also may be low in this energy, as numerous human spellcasters in an area deplete the local magic level rapidly.

An area depleted by spellcasting may require years, even centuries, to recover.

The Genesis of Life in the Solar System

The earliest life forms on Earth were anaerobic (non-oxygen using) in nature. In that time, Earth had a carbon dioxide atmosphere. Their entire ecology was based on random, unstable chemical interactions. Despite their simple biology, intelligent life developed. To survive in their unstable world, these first Earthlings lived near the seashores, building cities that extended into the water.

Venus evolved like Earth, but never developed intelligent life. On Mars, different circumstances resulted in the development of oxygen-producing life (algae) which in turn forced the development of oxygen-using life. Intelligence also developed on Mars.

Mars was always a harsher world than Earth, and it was doomed to die by its small mass. Eventually, the atmosphere and water would evaporate into space. When the Martians reached a level of science that allowed them to understand this, they looked to their neighbor planets.

Venus was too hot for the Martians to survive there, but Earth could be tolerated. The Martians planned the devastation of Earthlife by simple seeding of algae. Oxygen would, after all, kill Earthlife. A cloud of small missiles filled with algae was hurled at Earth.

The early Earthlings (called Cthonians by later Earthly civilizations) were masters of magic at this time, and learned of the impending doom. A conclave of the most powerful magicians of Earth cast a Deathcurse of unbelievable power, using the entire energy of the world, to slay the Martians.

The Deathcurse accelerated the doom of Mars, blowing away the atmosphere. A billion Martians died. Earth, meanwhile, underwent a slow and painful death, choked by a green scum they could not fully stop.

Slowly, over a billion years, life was reborn on Earth. This new aerobic Earthlife was robust, and claimed first the oceans, then the land, and finally the air of Earth. Eventually, Man arose.

Some of the missiles aimed at Earth missed. One, at least, found its way to Venus, slaying the anaerobic life there before intelligence could arise. As on Earth, new life arose on Venus.

On Mars, a few Martians survived in underground bunkers. Over time they expanded their bunkers into underground cities. A few of them, angry over their loss, proceeded to study the Deathcurse, and came for the first time to understand magic. Mars at that time had much Universal energy left, as no Martian spellcasters had ever arisen.

The Martian sorcerors decided on a bold plan. They cast a spell of surpassing power, the second most powerful ever cast in the solar system, to reclaim the lost atmosphere of Mars. The spell used much of the accumulated Universal energy of Mars in the casting, and in maintaining the atmosphere all remaining power is constantly used. Mars therefore has no usable Universal energy except in a few scattered locations.

The Surviving Cthonians

A few of the Cthonians survived the green doom. Some moved to the Moon, where they found a thin but acceptable atmosphere. They built underground dwellings, compressed the thin air, and made themselves a new home.

Other Cthonians moved underground on Earth, creating "cleansed" habitats free of poisonous oxygen.

Humanity

On Earth intelligence eventually arose. In the early days the Earth was rich with Universal energy, and the first magicians behaved like gods.

Atlantis

In the Mediterranean a civilization arose centered around an island called Atlantis. The island was unusually rich in Universal energy, and magicians congregated there. Atlantis became prosperous.

When the island was shaken by earthquakes, the King of Atlantis called the most powerful of the magicians before him, charging them with the protection of the island. They learned from their divinations that the island would eventually explode from volcanic pressure. To protect the island, they called a conclave to cast a spell of great power. This spell contained the volcanic pressure, thus protecting the island.

The magicians of Atlantis failed in two ways. First, they did not understand the limited nature of Universal energy. Eventually, the power for the spell would be depleted. Further, they did not realize that the volcanic pressure, bottled up and given nowhere to go, would increase. This constantly increased the amount of Universal energy the spell required to contain the pressure.

Eventually, the power was exhausted. The volcanic forces, freed after over a year of containment, destroyed the island so thoroughly that no trace of it survived. Only the legends were left.

The Sidhe

In Europe before the rise of the Roman Empire there appeared a race of humans, undistiguished in any way except for their mastery of magic. They called themselves the Sidhe (she), but many other humans considered them gods. The Sidhe understood the limited nature of Universal energy, and so conserved it, performing great magics only when necessary. The Sidhe commonly lived far apart from each other, and from other humans, so that each would have sufficient magical energy for his or her own uses.

A wizard of the Sidhe called Math proposed a radical solution to the limited energy available. He planned the construction of a network of magical "conduits" to collect Universal energy where it is produced or released (such as rain forests and volcanos) and distribute the power to Sidhe settlements. In order to be stable, such a network would have to be worldwide; so Math and his apprentices set out by ship to circumnavigate the world.

The network required seventy-seven years to complete. When it was done, the worldwide net of magical force lines supplied the Sidhe with the nearly limitless power they desired.

This network became known to other magicians, for Math had not tried to conceal it. Not knowing the source of the lines, the other magicians gave them the name "Ley lines" for their own reasons. Anywhere a line passes by, the local magic is effectively increased. At points where three or more branches connect, the increase is proportionately more.

After his success on Earth, Math went on to construct "Ley Lines" on the moon and Venus.

The Sidhe, made nearly immortal by their magics, withdrew from the world. Some even travelled to other dimensions, or to the moon, or to Venus to live. They reproduce only to replace those who die, and as few ever die, few ever are born. Math, in particular, still lives, residing in a castle in a crater near the moon's north pole. His crater has atmosphere and comfortable temperature, supported by a spell.

The Toltecs

In the lands of North and South America, great civilizations arose. Of particular interest are the Toltecs of the lands later to be known as Mexico and Central America. The Toltecs were a prosperous people, led by wise elder wizards. They understood the nature of magic, and knew of the Sidhe. When Math built the Ley Lines, the Toltecs welcomed him and his developments.

Changes in the climate of the Earth caused the Toltec lands to become less fertile. Famine became imminent in many areas. To prevent this, the Toltec leaders formed a plan to colonize Venus. They built a large sorceror's gate on the lower slope of a remote volcano, and invited colonists.

The colony was more successful than the Toltec leaders expected. Over three-quarters of the Toltec people emmigrated to Venus. Effectively, the entire Toltec nation moved.

The nearly deserted lands of the Toltecs eventually were repopulated by other native peoples. The remaining Toltecs blended with these new settlers, leaving only legends of the great Toltec nation.

The Mayans

The Mayan empire arose in place of the Toltecs. They were more interested in commerce and war than the Toltecs, and spent less time studying magic. Still, they had wise magicians among them who made great discoveries.

One Mayan magician discovered the Toltec gate to Venus. Although the gate, made of wood, had long since decayed beyond usability, he learned enough from it to understand how to build another. The Mayans at that time were in the midst of a civil war, and the beleagered king of the Mayans saw a gate to a fertile, basically uninhabited land as an excellent means of escape for his loyal followers and himself. So, the Mayan king ordered a gate made. The Mayan gate was built inside a tomb, disguised as a pair of decorative pillars. It opened on a place on Venus far from the Toltec lands.

The Mayan king and his followers escaped through the gate... an entire city simply disappeared. The rebels never learned where the loyalists went.

After this the Mayan empire, kingless and in disarray, simply disappeared.

The Aztecs

After the Mayans came the Aztecs. They also built a mighty empire, but they knew little magic (as the Aztec capitol was far from any Ley Lines, little energy was available). When the Spanish came the Aztecs were no match for them.

One group of Aztecs, led by a prince, entered an abandoned Mayan city while fleeing a Spanish legion. Seeking a place to make their last stand, they entered a tomb. Among the Aztecs was a priest with the power of second sight. He recognized the sorceror's gate inside the tomb, and discovered how to activate it. Like the Mayans, the Aztec warriors simply disappeared.

In the intervening years, the Mayan settlers of Venus had spread far and wide over an empty continent. All the Mayan cities were on good terms, and so were unready for war.

The Aztec warriors captured a Mayan village. With that toehold, the prince sent a messenger back to Earth to invite other Aztec warriors to join them. Nearly a thousand warriors came, and they made war against the Mayans.

The Aztecs slew any Mayan sorcerors they found, and all Mayan warriors. The remaining men were enslaved, and the Aztecs took the Mayan women as slaves as well, dividing them up into harems for each Aztec warrior. The Mayan slave men were allowed only the least desirable women for wives, and their children were summarily sacrificed if they were in any way unsuitable for slavery. True Aztec women were the "chief wives" to their warrior husbands, and were responsible for training the half-Aztec children to scorn their Mayan mothers.

A three-tiered social order thus arose. At the bottom were the true-blooded Mayans, worthy only for slavery. On top were the true-blooded Aztecs, who considered themselves all noble. In the middle were the half-Aztec, half-Mayans, who were treated as commoners. A few half-Aztecs would be granted nobility from time to time (for "actions worthy of the true blood") to foster good relations between the upper and middle classes.

The Aztec nation of Venus (called "Aztexica" by its inhabitants) considers anyone with any fractional amount of Aztec blood to be half-Aztec. This means the offspring of a true-blood and a half-Aztec is supposedly the equal of the offspring of a half-Aztec and a Mayan slave. In practice, however, those with a higher percentage of Aztec parentage receive better treatment.

When all was said and done, the Aztecs and the Mayans divided their continent. An uneasy truce has persisted ever since.

The Gods of the Aztecs and Mayans

Strangely, both the Aztecs and the Mayans revere the same gods. The "gods" of the Aztecs and Mayans are actually a group of alien creatures from distant stars. They came to the solar system at the time of the decline of the Toltec nation, and represented themselves as gods. Their true aims are unknown. It appears that they come and go from the solar system alone, in groups, and sometimes all together, such that all, some, or none of them may be around at any given time.

They live on a station in the asteroid belt when they are not on Earth or Venus. In the early days they took a hand in many events on Earth, but now rarely interfere. When they do, it is usually for personal reasons (usually unknown to anyone else) and their actions will usually completely mystify any witnesses.

These "gods" are as follows:

Quetzalcoatl, God of the Air, Law Giver: This being is chief among the aliens. He is the Captain of their starship-station. He resembles a winged serpent in his natural form, but like all the "gods" he can appear as anything he desires.

Camaxtli, God of Fate: Camaxtli appears human, although his eyes are large and dark and his eye sockets are oddly squared.

Camazotz, the Bat God: This "god" resembles a giant bat. He is the Navigator of the starship-station.

Chalchiuhtlicue, Goddess of Running Water and Love, Goddess of the Jade Petticoat: This being, believed to be the wife of Tlaloc, appears as a slender biped with a fish-like face in her normal form. She often appears as an attractive human woman.

Huhueteotl, God of Fire: This reptilian-appearing being is the Engineer of the starship-station. He is immune to heat up to nearly 900○F, and often appears sheathed in flames. He rarely takes any form other than his own.

Huitzilopochtli, God of War: Huitzilopochtli is the Weapons Officer of the starship-station. He is of the same race as Camaxtli. Huitzilopochtli enjoys primitive combat, and often appears in battles on the side of his followers. He always fights well, but does not ensure his side will win; if they are losing despite his help, he will simply disappear.

Itzamna, God of Medicine: This being is also of the race of Camaxtli. He is the Ship's Doctor aboard the starship-station. Occasionally he will teach his followers basic medical techniques disguised as rituals (so they will perform them carefully). He appears as a homely, toothless old man.

Mictlantecuhtli, God of Death: This "god" has a cadaverous form, with his skin stretched tightly over his humanlike skeleton. He is the only member of the alien company who understands magic.

Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror, God of the Sun and Moon: This being is of the race of Camaxtli. However, he rarely appears as anything other than a giant bear or jaguar. He constantly plots a mutiny against Quetzalcoatl, and to that end he attempts to recruit the other aliens to join him. He is a cruel being, and his human followers are likewise cruel. The rulers of Aztexica revere this god above all.

Tlaloc, God of Rain: Tlaloc looks like a heavier version of his "wife" Chalchiuhtlicue. He also has tusks. Tlaloc is the Life-Support Engineer aboard the starship-station.

Tlazolteotl, Goddess of Vice: This "god" is of the race of Camaxtli. She appears most commonly as a very beautiful woman, and has the power to influence the emotions of humans at will. She is a Xenopologist aboard the starship-station, but her studies of humankind are more "hands-on" than one might expect.

Xochipilli, God of Gambling and Chance, Lord of Flowers: This alien is also of the race of Camaxtli. He is a Xenobiologist aboard the starship-station, but is more interested in his hobby of gambling with humans. He commonly appears as a handsome, affluent young man, so that he can indulge his hobby.

The Modern Earth

It's 1939. World War II has just begun in Europe, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and of Albania by Italy. The Spanish Civil War just ended, and the Soviet Union has invaded Finland.

The world, it seems, is in a mess. But this is only what the common people know. Much more is going on than appears to be.

For instance, war has also broken out again on Venus. In 1937 forces from Maya attacked Aztexica, and for the first time appear to be winning. Now the Aztecs are worried. Aztec agents have been sent back thru the gate to Earth to seek support against the Mayans.

The Aztecs have found the Nazis. Adolph Hitler, long known to believe in the supernatural, has made a deal with the Aztecs. He will trade them German-made firearms for items of magic. The Aztecs are not very skilled with magic, but they have many items captured from the Mayans to trade for weapons. The Nazis will trade a truckload of guns and ammunition for even a single scrying mirror, and the Aztecs are certain that only a few truckloads of firearms will be needed to drive back, and perhaps totally vanquish, the Mayan invaders.

On Mars, a group of Martians who call themselves the "Original Blood of Mars" have declared war on an enclave of Cthonian survivors on the Moon. The "Original Blood" Martians have the same genetics as their ancestors of one billion years ago, for they worship their ancestry. Any mutation or evolution has been stamped out.

The Cthonians on the Moon are the decendants of a group of Cthonians rescued by a Cthonian wizard before the Green Doom descended on Earth. Unlike the "Original Blood" they have changed, both thru evolution and genetic manipulation. They have pursued scientific knowledge since their defeat by science at the hands of the Martians, and so they have combined superscience and magic to battle the Martians.

However, the Cthonians must protect their limited Lunar environment. They live in caverns built well below the Lunar surface, and have only a small amount of their peculiar air and algae-free water. The Martians know this, and are attempting to undermine the Cthonian life-support.

In the eons following the Deathcurse of Mars, many Martian groups splintered away from the survivors. One nation used genetic engineering to create a race of symbiont warriors consisting of a brain-creature riding a body-creature. This invention allowed the knowledge of a trained warrior to survive the death of the body. The brain-creature has four small legs, one eye, and an "umbilical" organ that attaches to a receptacle in the body-creature. The "umbilical" has nervous and circulatory connections, so that the body-creature provides all nourishment to the brain-creature, and the brain-creature completely controls and senses thru the body-creature. Without a rider, the body has only rudimentary functions available. Typically, the brain-creature attaches to the back of the body-creature, so as to be protected.

This proved to be a mistake, as the symbiont warriors rose up after a time and overthrew their masters. The creator race was used for food by the warriors, who had no need for slaves or servants. Taking control of their society, the warriors have been constantly improving themselves and conquering larger and larger areas of Mars. Soon they plan to assault Earth and Venus as well.