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 Magic, Mages, and the Order of the Masque
Rosalie
 Posted: Feb 29 2016, 03:51 PM
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Magic I


On Magic
There has ever been an acknowledgement among all who live in the region and many who do not that the entities called pokemon differ fundamentally from entities that are human. Medicines and illnesses of the common kinds do not have equal efficacy between the two groups. Humans congregate, build, and change the landscape to their preference and benefits. Pokemon evolve themselves to their landscapes, and lack the instinctual need of humanity to group and form intimate societies and economies. Despite the differences, it can also be said that each frequently and commonly derives benefit from the other, and it is indisputable that the two are intimately, elementally linked.

The absolute nature of this relationship is not and may never be understood.

There are, however, anomalies. Pokemon who have developed in imitation of human features -- waste, tools, trends. Humans who seem to have access to some of the same powers that normally would be the sole province of the pokemon.

Mages.

Mages differ from those who "have a trick to them" -- those peculiar people who have what is, in truth, a kind of dormant and natural human magic that makes it unusually simple to start a fire, to drink spoiled water and live, to predict the weather with uncommon accuracy, or to bring a garden to lush beauty even in a hard time or with poor soil. These people are not mages, but have many names; herbwomen, green-thumbs, keen-eyes, or even merely lucky surprisingly often.

Mages have access to more, the conscious use of strengths that we call magic and ranges of elements that can be directed and manipulated.

The Origins of Magic, Mages, and Healers
It is said that when the soul of a pokemon is torn from its body in a terrible, violent death and is unable to be reborn as a ghost, it wanders the living world, lost, until it meets the soul of an unborn human child. Lonely and driven mad by its wretched destiny, the pokemon merges its own soul with that of this child, and when this child arrives in the world, he or she will become a mage. Their descendants thereafter will also inherit this skill, and although perhaps only one in every three will inherit the skill, it always breeds true. This is the kindest explanation.

Other explanations for the origins of a magic, particularly emergent in a non-magical bloodline, are less polite, but they are not unreasonable and nor have they been able to be disproven. Bestiality is the most common of the origin tales, where a human who lies too near a pokemon for too long or couples with them will become leeched by that pokemon's soul, no matter their relationship. When the human separates from the pokemon in distance or following a coupling, they carry a piece of the pokemon's soul with them. When these unnatural bonds accumulate over the years and a particular critical amount of stolen or violates shreds of souls is met, a mage will emerge. Still other people believe a combination of the two main tales.

Regardless of the ultimate origin, magic follows conventions unique to itself.

The kind of magic that develops is different, person to person, soul to soul. It is impossible to know what kind of pokemon's soul inhabits any one body or blood, or even if multiple have entered and share their strength to amplify the child's. Despite this, whenever the blood of the mage meets the blood of one with a trick and therefore possessing a natural, human magic, a healer is born. Ever after in that child's future line, for every child born with magic, eight times out of ten they will display the magic of the body: what we call healing.

As is ever the case in the world, it is easier by far to break than to mend, and so it is as well with magic. Any mage may learn to heal what is minor, but those who have magic strong enough to commonly be called healers for comfort of the commoners can also unheal, and far more easily. The magic of the body coupled with learning can allow near total dominance over the physical aspect of either a man or a 'mon. Bodies remember, always. A so-called healer can reverse and recall a body to any and every wound it has ever taken, reopen and rebreak, induce the body to think it suffers the allergies and illnesses of the past, and so torture or kill. That is not the extent of their powers, of course. Those with some strength and some learning can go farther and break the healthy bindings of a body to fill the lungs with blood, peel skin from flesh as neatly as a man skins a fish if not so painless, grind bones to dust in their sockets, and worse.

Those mages with the more traditionally considered magics have dominion over a range of sister elements, strongest in one and weaker as they attempt to reach farther along the elemental wheel. From there, they are limited only by their imagination for the damage that they may cause. The range of these kinds do not bear thinking, nor do the results of the combinations of these two types of magics.

In youth, magics respond to emotions, and so are immensely dangerous, for magical strength does not grow except as it can be broadened by learning. A child who may one day be a master mage is as able to collapse the houses and structures of their home and town in a tantrum with rolling quakes of the earth as a carefully trained professional. It is for these reasons that children who show their predilection for these unnerving abilities are apprenticed as young as possible to elder and somewhat more trustworthy healers if they show in that direction or they are Taken by the shadowed Mages' Guild with neither permission, forewarning, nor compensation. Often, the child is never seen again.

There are other hazards as well, feeding into and supporting or proving the reasonability of the region's prejudice against the arcane arts. Some are natural, while others are artefacts of the region's culture and history.

Throughout the Harper's Region, most people maintain the age-old attitude that a child, born without the capacity to equal and rival others, ought to be put out of its suffering shortly after birth. That is to say, a child born malformed, crippled, or heavily deficient is put down in the same way a poorly formed pup or calf would be. This is regarded as a kindness, a sparing of the suffering of human life and the contempt of its peers, and is not remarked upon.

Magic, however, is not immediately obvious in a newborn child. The child reveals it as they grow, but without a true standard measure of strength a parent can only wait and watch in trepidation to see whether the child is fully human. A child with magic may never learn to live in the truth of the world; may never learn to use their hands or to struggle with problems of the mind or body the way a true born human must. They risk eternal dependence and removal from maturation, and a parent can do little to nothing to dissuade them from this dependency even if they, too, have magic manifested.

It is also said that magic appears most strongly in the lines most tangled and re-crossed: the inbred and the incestuous blood. This dates back to the days when the mages' guild was still operating in the open and arguably a part of society, where guild families intermarried only with one another and primarily coupled according to magical strength. Generation upon generation upon generation of drawing from the same pool of blood produced mages of great strength and of poor health or crippled body. The guild did not expose nor drown malformed infants, but forced them through magical means or exhaustive nursing to retain life in their ill-suited bodies.

They believed that magic was independent of the mind and human form, and so it is. No matter how weak or ill a body or mind may be, so long as it contains life its magic may be used... or leeched by others.


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Rosalie
 Posted: Jul 3 2017, 11:14 PM
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Magic II


Harperian Mages Guild
In Harper, magic is both a part of daily life and loathed above all else. Most fear it, or at least distrust it, making the Mages' Guild a very shadowy operation. It's general knowledge that their guild hall is somewhere in the Shattersky range, and they have no branches in any major cities except for Miramossa, where one of the rooms in the Inn generally houses a correspondent to meet with those who are under their employ and to be the public face of the guild. He owns no pokemon and is avoided by anyone who does not specifically need to speak with him. Mages and healers who have business there must take a flying pokemon, as the location is not accessible by foot.

The guild itself is of unknown origin, although it is one of the oldest in the region. The guild functions as a sort of research facility in the region, although it has no ethical government code. This guild is generally always desperate for help and will employ any who wish to work for them. They reward good research lavishly.

Main Points
  • Operates largely independently
  • Their base of operations is somewhere in the Shatterskies
  • Magic is widely loathed and feared as a cultural facet of the region, tolerated in few and narrow instances or handled with great superstition in crafting
  • There is said to be a branch in Miramossa for those in desperate need of contact

Research
The mages' guild is responsible for the advent of both pokeballs and pokecards, as well as the invention of TM and HM move discs, but their research does not end there. Their main goal is rumored to be the controlling and taming of whatever force causes the mirages around Miramossa, but no one knows for sure. Their employees must be willing to do virtually anything that is requested of them, leading to a lot of rogues being under their payroll.

In order to find more applications and aspects of magic, this guild studies pokemon, from whom their powers are said to have originated. This is why the pokedex in the pokecard exists, and why much of their practice is unethical. Missions for this guild may include anything from the stealing of a cubone's skull hat in order to see its face and the effect it has on its evolution, to torture of a torkoal to examine the smoke it produces, to simply capturing a number of a certain pokemon to send to the guild for testing or observing certain species in the wild.

Their missions are often dangerous if you are willing to do whatever they ask, but depending on the person's requests, they may give you missions that are very much on the ethical side -- more of the observation and catching or hatching and less of what they call 'experimentation' such as with the cubone example.

Main Points
  • Create majority of the region's magic-fueled items: pokeballs, pokecards, etc
  • Their goals are largely unknown, but seem to center on Miramossa
  • Often hire 'expendables' to missions to expand their research, but pay well
Healers
Healers are a separate branch of the guild that is not generally affiliated with the main portion, which is part of the reason they are tolerated throughout the region. Their branch focuses on life and the preservation thereof at all costs, despite the corruption of some healers. This branch is very loosely organized, essentially just defining a code of ethics for the healers to work by and providing a number of tricks they can use to mask their magic as they work.

Members may ONLY play healers as adopted NPCs after approval by the head mod and both admins.

Main Points
  • The Healing Guild is a sub-section of the Mages' Guild
  • They are the only true accepted form of magic in the region.
In order to enter the employment of the guild, either an abra from the ATN must be sent to their hall with the message or the representative in Miramossa must be met.

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Rosalie
 Posted: Jul 3 2017, 11:20 PM
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The Order


The Order of the Masque is considered by the majority of the region to be a strange mixture of guild, folklore, and nebulous yet powerful political entity. It's something that is considered to be omnipresent in the same way that crime is considered a given in modern day big cities, and as irremovable. To some it is a source of frustration, a bane, a cesspool. To others, it is their family, their life, and their world. Most fall somewhere in between the nobility's guardians and the Order's Rogues but such is life. There has never been a time when this was not the case in the region.


Magic and the Order
The barbaric practice of forcing life to linger where it naturally ought not to remain reduced the mages in the region's mind to something not human and not pokemon, but an aberration in between. Mages had begun to hunt for strong emergent magical blood in outside families as the fertility of the old guild families dropped, initiating the tradition of Taking. Interestingly, it was this aggression in the Mages' Guild that first formed the gangs that would become the Order.

Those humans who had a trick to them but who were not of truly magical lines became a rallying point among the poorer communities where Taking was a most potent threat to families with little means to defense against the Guild's influence. They became prized for their natural ingenuity, industry, and talents for particular skills as well as what many would simply describe in the ancient scrolls as 'their humanity.' Like anyone, the gangs who formed around the 'Tricked' competed with one another for power in their own limited way in the streets of their villages and towns and budding cities, living off of one another's resources and scavenging or stealing what they needed both to survive and to combat the Takings. Eventually, a dominant 'Tricked' leader would emerge in a city and create stability among the lower classes' smaller gangs.

In time, these groups became more sophisticated and more skilled, as well as less welcome in common places. Secrecy and unsavory talents and skills drove a division between them and common people, but allowed the exchange of support between gangs of various cities and towns, frequently through traveling players, mask-makers, and caravan guards who stood with a foot on each side of the law. By the time the Guild was driven from the region's polite and even common society, the Order of the Masque had coalesced over the centuries into the network it remains, and the titles of its leaders bastardised into simply 'Trick' or 'Trictess' out of convenience. Not all of its leaders necessarily have the trick to them that established the Order, but each remains extraordinary by the necessity of competition within each branch.


The Early Order
The Order of the Masque came into the region with the Harper himself as a sect of his troupe, named so because those belonging to it were masters of costuming crafts, masks, and less innocuous sort of disguises. In Caledon, these were the people relied upon most heavily for eking out their living whenever humble tips could not keep food in their bellies and cloaks on their backs. They were as integral as the performers, although not as gaudy. In their ranks were masters of martial arts (tasked to instruct the performers on matters of defense), parents to those talented children the group adopted, and chefs (masters of medicine and poisons by extension). Due to their importance, they came to be considered as something of a ruling council beneath the leader. In short, they were the backstage crew of the show and the key to their survival. The Order separated the traveling players from the singing beggars.

In the new region, no longer were such honed skills so essential -- knowledge of poisons and disguise helped little in the forest or snowy passes, and the original Order began to dissolve and break into its basic parts: Apothecaries, Cooks and Bakers, Smiths, Clothworkers and Weavers, Leatherworkers, et cetera... and the final group that would come to be formally known as the Rogues. All of these branches of the old Order became the various guilds over time except for the Rogues. This final sect was a peculiar mixture of those who disagreed with the way the Harper and his folk had lead and governed, masters of now superfluous crafts of disguises, costumery, poisons and undesirable potions, trickery, magic, and theft. At the time, the term "Rogues' Guild" meant little more dangerous than "Guild of Those Who Do Not Fit The Others But Who Remain Skilled." Over time, their talents and crafts were pooled and as the Harper's new cities rose, those best suited to the subtle art of conning and trickery found themselves new aptitude in politics and gave rise to the class of people known today by the honorifics 'Trick Lords and Ladies' (or Tricks and Trictesses).

Unfortunately, the balance would not last, and as more settled and peaceful society developed in the "virgin" region, a system of government was put into place with the Queen (for the Harper himself had insisted that no man could count himself equal with his wife if there were not also women in power, and he was determined to bring the value of the troupe's females with him into the new region rather than to stifle them as had been the Caledon custom) and land-owning new nobility at the top to fund and rule over the young region as a whole. Beneath them, the civic councils flourished, managing and representing the people in much the same way that family or company heads had once done under the Harper in Caledon. There began to be little and less call or desire for the unsavoury Order's influence, and they found themselves jostled and pushed to the edges and fringes of the new nation, their political standing crumbled and their teachings relegated to the shadows.

They thrived again in time where they had thrived before; the moonless hours of the night and the crowds of the day. As the population boomed, so too did their ranks swell. As the nobility gathered power and repute, so did the Order. As people found new occupations and new opportunities, the Order followed like parasites on a host. As the region grew, so did they. Through the course of time and progress, the once proud Order of the Masque clutched tight to their names and their symbols but it was not enough. Rogues they were and Rogues they would remain on the opposite side of the law, for their talents were not those of the day and peace. The final break in the remains would occur in the Hundred Years War, the crusade against the mages and the magic users. The pressures exerted by the church and from within the new Order itself jettisoned the few remaining magicians away and allowed them to flee to the mountains to the far north to be what is now known as the Mage's Guild. It was their ties to the Order that permitted the knowledge of magic beyond the healers to be preserved for the future, but the two would never again be whole.

Main Points
  • Began as a sect in the Harper's Troupe
  • Consisted of members responsible for keeping the troupe alive
  • In the new region, these skill were no longer essential and the Order began to dissolve into different guilds
  • But there was one sect that disagreed with the way of the Harper: the remaining Order of the Masque
  • They grew secretly in number, specializing in conning and trickery
  • After the Hundred Years War, the Mages' Guild would be the final guild to break away from the Order of the Masque



The Order Today
The Masque watches over many businesses carried out beneath the guardians' noses, while still ruled by their increasingly powerful Tricks (they have to be, to remain at odds with the nobles, after all). Among their operations can be found elaborate smuggling from across the known world, the brutal poaching of rare or exotic pokemon for curios, pets, breeding farms, or wealthy would-be handlers desiring easy toys, thieves and all of their trappings, assassins, spies, piracy, bribery of council members and nobles wherever possible, and perhaps the most tenuous of all: deep and secret connections to the Mages' Guild. The truth of the Order of the Masque is that it is a sprawling behemoth and remains a subversive political power.

For some, the draw is still the powerful resistance to the current lawful regime, the yearning for the strength and power of centuries or the might of a vast network expertly held together mostly out of sight by the Tricks. For others, the Order is a home as it had always been from the beginning -- a street rat finds a family, learns a trade and becomes able to survive. And still there are more whose reasons are varied, as there always have been. Perhaps they seek the mages. Perhaps they dream of captaining a pirate fleet. Maybe they prefer to pursue knowledge long lost or secrets held too sacred to be normally shared. No matter their motives, the Order holds a place for them for as long as they give their loyalty to it, and in many cases the end of a loyalty can become the end of a life. It is not with kindness that they have made it through the years.

Unlike the Order of the past, the average Harperian will never be truly or fully cognizant of what all the Order is and what it represents. Each individual sees only parts, like blind men touching various places on a mamoswine and those parts are interpreted through the lens of their lives: how close their ties to the Guard and nobility, their stance on the law, their stature and station, where they live, and hundreds of other small factors. Indeed, the only universal feature of the Order is that they do not subscribe to the laws in any way.

It should be noted, of course, that in the past fifty to a hundred years, the Order has very slowly begun to tiptoe its way to peer out from the shadows, gathering its strength with enough intent to make the Queen hold her breath and the nobles ask themselves what, exactly, lay in store. It seems more and more that it is only a matter of time before the Order imposes itself on the region and attempts to forcibly recapture the ruling positions once more. It isn't the first time they've tried, but no one can say whether they will or will not succeed.

Main Points
  • Various operations within the order, including but not limited to:
    • Smuggling
    • Poaching
    • Thieving
    • Assassins
    • Spies
    • Piracy
    • Bribery
    • Connections to the Mage Guild
  • The average Harperian is not aware of the extent of the Order
  • They are slowly building enough power to oppose the Queen

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