Hitler’s Mages: Background

7 Apr

Once there were the gods. That much is certain, although scholars disagree on their true nature. The gods could perform small miracles for their followers in exchange for worship, often switching sides when they tired of the game; indeed, it is not clear if the gods existed prior to humanity or if they were shaped out of human dreams.

It was just before the birth of Christ that Merlin, a powerful druid and sole survivor of his clan, worked the Spell of Sundering. The Romans, worshippers of gods who demanded blood and sacrifice, found themselves largely cut off from their gods. Merlin hadn’t entirely separated the Fixed Lands of Men and the Changing Lands of the Gods, but he had made it far harder for the gods to intervene in the human world. Slowly, magic started to leech out of the world, with its final flourish at Camelot. Merlin (or perhaps a second sorcerer with the same name; no two sources agree) oversaw the defeat of dark sorcerers who dreamed of bringing back the magic, and then either died or went to sleep in a cave. Magic was gone from the human world.

But it returned when the Faerie reopened a doorway to Earth. A child taken from Earth by the Faerie somehow tore through the Sundering and attempted to blend in with the human population, escaping from her mistress. Adopted by local nobility, her name became Anne Boleyn. Unknown to Anne, a little Faerie magic had blurred into her soul, transfiguring her into a hybrid. When she caught the eye of King Henry VIII and became his wife, she accidentally created a permanent link between Earth and Faerie. Magic started to seep back into the world.

The effects were becoming noticeable when Anne’s daughter became Queen Elizabeth I of England. Being partly of Faerie blood as well as human royalty, Elizabeth commanded the respect of the Kings and Queens of the Far Realm (Faerie). In order to help the Faerie overcome their sterility, she ordered a number of English nobility to interbreed with the Faerie, creating a number of human magicians. (Distorted reports of this leaked out to the Pope, convincing him to encourage the Spanish to invade England.) These magicians became the Thirteen Families, who considered themselves guardians of magic and protectors of humanity from the forces of darkness. When Elizabeth died and James I of Scotland took the throne, the Thirteen Families hid their nature from him. James was no great friend to witchcraft, regarding it as the spawn of the devil.

By that time, the Thirteen had already convinced many of the magical creatures that roamed Earth to accept limitations on their behaviour, in exchange for the right to exist. It had become an article of faith among the Thirteen that anything ‘satanic’ would eventually expose their existence, exposing them to persecution and eventual destruction. Certainly enough had leaked out over the years to help encourage a witch-burning craze that swept Europe and parts of America. Many of the victims were not actually witches, but the damage was done.

The British Civil War fractured the Thirteen along with the remainder of English Nobility. Some of them supported King Charles I, despite doubts about his religion and his wife’s links to Rome, while others felt that Parliament could provide more stable government (and protection for the growing magical community.) Magicians eventually faced each other at the Battle of Pendle, a battle that devastated the region and taught both sides a sharp lesson about the dangers of magical combat. The long-term effects included magical contamination that created newer and more dangerous versions of magical creatures. Even after the Restoration, the magical community never truly reunited and countless magicians split off from the Thirteen to create their own covens. However, the Council of Thirteen continued to claim supremacy over the magical world.

Each of the Thirteen Families has a Master, usually (but not always) the senior member of the family. Collectively, the Thirteen Masters form the Council of Thirteen, the most powerful magical government in the world. Their main priority is preventing the mundane world from learning about magic, although the justification for this varies from family to family. The Council is bound together by solemn oaths, which they attempt to apply to other magic-users where possible. Remembering Pendle, the strongest oath is a strict ban on interfering with mundane society.

The Thirteen is served by the Triad; the Arbitrator, the Investigator and the Executioner. The Arbitrator is charged with meditating disputes between rival groups of magicians, the Investigator with investigating misuse of magic and the Executioner with eliminating individuals or groups who pose a serious threat to the status quo. They are all immensely powerful and skilled magicians, although their precise authority tends to wax and wane depending upon family politics. Direct intervention is generally frowned upon unless there is a clear and present danger to the community – and sometimes even blatant threats can be ignored.

Outside the Thirteen, the different covens organise themselves differently. Some are basically democratic, others have masters and students bound together by oaths of power. Some of them are believed to have links to various royal families and intelligence agencies outside Britain, something that is frowned upon by the Thirteen, but generally ignored (largely because pushing matters too far might result in outright magical war).

The magical world and the mundane world intersect in a number of ways, although the Sundering made it harder for mundane folk to become aware of magic. Entities like vampires and werewolves exist, but their predations on the humanity are generally controlled by the agreements they made with the Thirteen. It is fairly simple for a magician to create a hiding place right under the noses of mundane authorities, and to move through the streets of mundane society without being noticed. Goblins, trolls and other such creatures exist, but generally hide behind glamours or far from human society. A few seemingly-normal humans cast very long shadows into the magical world.

On a higher plane, there are representations of cosmic principles and forces (like Death), angels and devils. They can be summoned into the human plane by humans and bargained with, although some have no interest in humanity and others take sly delight in tricking humans into selling their souls for trinkets. Trusting the devil to keep a bargain fairly is a fool’s game.

Magic is generally a talent – most magicians are descendents from the Thirteen or magical lines that existed before the Sundering – but there are some exceptions. Given enough determination, magic can be learned, although a trained magician is rarely a match for a born sorcerer. Certain acts can give vast amounts of magical power, including sex, murder and suicide.

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3 Responses to “Hitler’s Mages: Background”

  1. The Deposed King April 9, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    An interesting little concept. But it doesn’t say anything about Hitler or his Mages. At elast not directly.

    The Deposed King

    • chrishanger April 9, 2012 at 7:04 am #

      It’s more of the background concept.

      The general idea is that a rogue mage goes to Hitler (more likely Himmler, whose interest in the occulet was well known) and offers him magicial assistance in exchange for support against the Thirteen.

      Chris

      • The Deposed King April 10, 2012 at 8:38 am #

        I know hitler had some occult book he supposedly wrote. But I never got into it, so I could be off base.

        Concept is fine. Don’t forget that Hitler had two secret service branches. The head of one was feeding intelligence to the Allies just about the entire war and suspected but hitler held him in too high esteem to really cut him off until the end.

        The Deposed King

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