Events leading up to this location will be as normal. After Mainframe, the carnival will go into its usual travelling/transitional period for a few days, with no particular warnings or expectations. Normally this would be where I explain how the characters will entering the setting and what they will immediately see, but this is not a normal occasion.
Mostly because no one will have any idea how or why the carnival entered this universe - in fact, they may not remember entering anywhere at all.
Portland, USA is similar to the one of our modern earth in many ways, even if some of those are purely superficial. Importantly, it is the urban fantasy equivalent, meaning that standard city life is underlain with a complex civilization of 'supernaturals,' whose actions have the tendency to shake the world in unseen ways. It's a common formula in the multiverse, and some carnival workers may even come from a world much like it. The major difference here is this world in particular has managed to pull the carnival into its snare in an unprecedented way.
From the start of this visit an onward, the carnival will be rewritten into this world's rules - and in more than just a superficial sense. On day one, your characters will find themselves having awoken into completely new lives, with potentially no memory of anything that came before. How exactly this transition took place will start out unclear, and this will be a plot heavy narrative centered around investigation and the discovery of what has happened, and how those trapped here can leave.
Twenty five years ago, this world underwent a process sometimes know as "the Severing", in which a magical ritual of great power was used to severe the ties between earth and a number of otherworldly realms that had been cross-inhabiting it. The realms of faerie, heaven, and hell were disconnected entirely, stranding many of their members on earth with no way of returning home. The details of this ritual and its purpose are elusive, but its effects have spanned the globe.
Most supernatural stuff in this world is simply referred to as "magic", which is built upon an animistic reality in which all living creatures and all objects have some essence of "spirit" that can be interacted with. Casting and ritual magic is primarily centered upon esoteric means of interacting with these spirits in order to invoke various effects, while the magic of many supernatural creatures are considered to be innate traits of their species.
NOTE: This is a setting where magic is basically a "known secret", in that many people are factually aware of the supernatural, but it doesn't get talked about in public. Most people have probably seen something weird at some point in their life, but the supernatural is not officially recognized in society. Most of humanity does its best to try to pretend it doesn't exist, in order to avoid gaining the wrong kind of attention. So, you couldn't talk about doing magic on live TV, but there are a lot of places where you could get away with people seeing your supernatural traits if you keep to the 'underground.'
Upon entering this setting, every character will be mentally and physically inserted into the world, as if they've always been there. Bodies will be changed to something appropriate to the setting (which may or may not be the most similar to what they already have), and history will be rewritten to accommodate their presence. However, this rewritten history will not always be the most complete, or the most resistant to actual scrutiny. It's a patch job, and so some facts may not line up, and many details of past events may seem vague or incomplete if the character manages to think about it seriously. Locals memories of your characters will be similar - you have been inserted into their lives, but they may not be able to recall when they actually met you, or they could be missing large pieces of your childhood together. Everyone will compulsively feel the desire to ignore these inconsistencies, but the spell is not strong enough to keep them from examining these gaps if they are alerted to their presence.
There are three different ways you can handle your character's memories:
How long it takes your character to regain memories is purely up to you. You can allow their amnesia to affect them until the bitter end, or having it clear up after the first week. Either is fine. This event will be running for 1-2 OOC months, and so pace accordingly. The Patrons section below is filled with both the kinds of people the world is inhabited with, and also what kinds of people your characters might become.
NOTE: The magic causing this will not create new humans or other creatures from scratch in order to fill backstory blanks. Any roles you need filled in your characters new life will have to be taken by either another carnival member's new identity, or by a local who was here before you arrived. That said, if you want to have locals that have odd similarities to characters from your real backstory present, that is fine, but they won't be total dopplegangers and will have lives of their own. You will be free to NPC them, however.
► HUMAN: First and foremost, you can be a regular ‘ol human. They represent the vast majority of the actual population. Their lives are the typical modern experience, except for all the places where the supernatural tends to stick its head out and wag its tongue on occasion. Many humans have had supernatural experiences in this world, but most of them aren’t commonly believed or discussed. Talking about the supernatural too loudly and too publicly tends to result in attracting the wrong sorts of attention. Both government and occult coverups have been a thing in the past.
Of course, not all humans are born precisely “regular”, either. Sometimes, a human will be born already imbued with the essence of magic, resulting in a wide range of potential powers, such as psychic abilities or even things like pyrokinesis. These are most often mentally focused abilities, usually a form of ESP, but not always. Humans with these abilities can also sometimes be created with outside tampering, but that can become a nasty business.
► MAGE: Theoretically, any type of person can be a mage, but humans were the ones that made it popular. While other species tend to rely on inborn magical skills, being a full fledged mage is built upon a foundation of secret knowledge and ritual skills - actively learning how to bend the etheric energies of the world around them instead of simply using magic in the ways they were born to. Classically, this tends to result in a mage having less overtly ‘powerful’ but more diverse skillsets. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t spend your time learning almost exclusively how to blow things up.
Knowledge is something that can be hoarded, however, which means that mage culture tends to be secretive and elitist, with ancient societies keeping a lot of the really good shit to themselves. Newer, more freeform mages are left with a few choices: to join these old covens and follow their rules in exchange for secrets, to steal that information from said covens, or to research and discover their own tricks from the world around them. It’s a tough world out there for the aspiring spellcrafter.
Actual spells tend to be comprised of ritual acts, recitation of words, and other formulaic interactions with the world. If you’re good enough at a spell, then you will eventually be able to find shortcuts that allow you to ease its casting.
► WARLOCK: Sort of a mage, sort of not. These humans use magic by channelling energy from a powerful supernatural entity. Demon worshippers and fae servants, and are good examples. They tend to be looked down on my “real” mages because it is considered a reckless shortcut to power that ensures that the individual is under the thumb of a supernatural creature with most likely dubious intentions.
► CHANGELING: When the world was cut off from outside dimensions, it left a number of fae stranded in this reality - and they have been making it everyone else’s problem ever since. While most true fae hide themselves away within their own twisted sections of reality, they also have a nasty habit of branching out from their territory long enough to create fae-human hybrids.
This can happen a number of different ways, but all of them tend to be referred to as “changelings” regardless of the specifics. The classic example of a changeling is when a fae steals away a human baby, leaving a fake replacement long enough to instill their essence into the real child. The length of time they keep the baby could be months or years, but eventually they tend to give the child back to its parents, with the intent of demanding the services of that changeling once they have reached adulthood. On some occasions, that child is never returned and the magical replacement will die an early death due to nebulous illness.
In other cases, a changeling child can be conceived by literally breeding with a mortal. This is more hands on than many fae like to get, but it still happens frequently enough to be a known phenomenon. Sometimes that child is taken back to the fae parent’s realm afterwards, or sometimes it will be left under the care of the mortal. The context of these situations vary wildly, since it usually depends on the relationship between the fae and mortal, and what the intent of the birth was. If the child is left with the mortal parent, it isn’t uncommon for them to be called upon by their fae parent for service once they have become an adult.
Otherwise, a changeling can be any mortal that has been “corrupted” enough by the fae to become one. All forms of changelings tend to be treated with fear and disgust by other supernaturals, as true fae are not well liked in a general sense. Most fae in this world are apparently of “the Summer Court.”
► ANGEL: Fae weren’t the only extra-dimensional travellers to become stranded when the Severing happened - there were hosts of angels and demons present as well, all of which were prevented from returning to their homelands of heaven and hell. In the angels’ case most of them had been on earth for benevolent reasons, moving among the local populace as guardians, psychopomps, and warriors fighting against their counterparts, the demons. Suffice to say, reactions at having been cut off from heaven have varied.
Some angels have seen it as a betrayal, coming to resent the humans for trapping them here, gradually falling away from their duties and instead focusing on enacting their will upon the world to whatever capacity they see fit. Others have simply carried on, believing that ultimately this is better than the earth being constantly under siege by demons and fae. Some were completely left without direction, utterly lost in a world without heaven.
Angels vary in power depending on their rank, and while some of the higher tiers are still on earth, most are from the lower ranks - guardians and soldiers. Before the Severing, angels would help to guide souls to their destination or earth (primarily to keep them away from demonic clutches), or would occasionally award particularly virtuous souls a free pass to join heaven as an angel. That, of course, is no longer possible.
► DEMON: Demons were on earth for more nefarious reasons than angels, attempting to drag lost souls down to hell or, at best, just partying on earth as destructively as they liked. Hell isn’t that fun in the long term, after all, so many saw it as an opportunity to expand their interests and claim territory. This is bad mostly because a lot of demons are straight up assholes.
When the severing happened, it prevented them from continuing to take souls to hell - of course, a lot of demons didn’t even really care about that, as they’d mostly been doing that on the orders of their Demon Lords in the first place. With no hell to return to, many demons were just pleased as punch to to continue living out their immortality with reckless abandon. Meanwhile, some of the more powerful demons were enraged to lose the resources and control their kingdoms in hell had afforded them, and have made it their mission to drag as many of the lesser demons into their services as possible, in order to recreate those kingdoms on earth.
Demonkind has been in a bit of a civil war, between the demons that want to assemble as an army, and the ones that just want to be left alone to their hedonistic ways. Though, it would be easier to just chill if the angels weren’t still trying to kill them.
► UNDEAD: This covers any creature that is primarily a dead thing still inhabiting the earth. Vampires, zombies, and ghosts are all forms of the undead in this word, and in most cases magic has somehow been used to keep them “living” despite being technically expired.
Vampires are of a more classic Dracula-esque variety. They are actual living corpses that may or may not develop bat traits over time. They are kept living by a contagious form of blood sorcery that was started thousands of years ago, and has been mostly propagated by the act of sharing blood with an existing vampire. Presumably bats had something to do with the original magic, due to the traits vampires will sometimes pick up. Holy objects and the sun risk dispelling the blood magic that keeps them alive, meaning that exposure will hurt and possibly kill them. They tend to sleep during the day as a result, but aren’t required to. They require the blood of the living to continue extending their lives, and though animals besides humans do work, humans are by far the most delicious and nutritious.
Zombies are more or less just corpses that are still inhabited by the soul of the person whose body it is. There are various magical ways of attaining this status, but it isn’t a particularly fun or glamorous one. Zombie bodies don’t heal, and while additional injuries won’t kill them (obviously), they can make it nearly impossible for the zombie to function without being repaired. Sometimes mages will become liches, which are especially powerful zombies that have enough magic that they can maintain their dead bodies more effectively. Most mages abhor liches though, because people who practice necromancy tend to be pretty awful.
Ghosts are just the souls of the dead, who haven’t passed on for whatever reason. Usually it is on account of some lingering attachment to the world of the living. Some ghosts will be nearly as present as they were when alive, but others will corrupted or obsessed from having died, and lose many aspects of their true personality. Even the most stable ghosts tend to become more imbalanced and irrational with time. Since the Severing happened, there has been a notable uptick in lost spirits, mostly due to the relative lack of psychopomps to escort them to the afterlife.
► WEREBEAST: Any human that can turn into a particular animal, and has the abilities or traits of said animal in day to day life. This can be pretty much any creature, though it tends towards predators. (Or, at least, those are the ones that survive.) Werebeast’s souls are at least part animal, which allows them to change their forms and draw on that spirits true power. This transformation is usually voluntary, though certain stimulus can make it happen compulsively, such as being in a great state of stress or the various equivalents of a “full moon.” While the triggers of a werewolf are the most commonly known, they are definitely not the only ones out there.
The beast form of a werebeast tends to be a larger or slightly more humanoid version of whatever animal they share a spirit with. The physical nature of a beast form will vary from individual to individual.
► ETCETERA: Though these are the main categories, there is room for some edge cases. If you have a particular idea, ask the mods and we will see what we can come up with. Things like half vampires, half angels, and half demons do exist, and what they take away from their heritage can vary. These cases are rare but not unprecedented.
Even if you don't remember coming from the outside... some of the people here may notice something odd about you. This has the potential to bring the carnival members a lot of attention, from both friend and foe alike. Be careful of which locals you trust, because everyone's got an agenda.
All characters will be physically changed to fit their roles as soon as the event begins, which means you can have them look any way that is reasonable for Portland's native species. They can also be somewhat younger or older than they usually are, within reason, if it works better for your concept. (This isn't a de-aging event though, so no making your characters kids just for the sake of making them kids.) Participation in this event will allow them to come away with at least one uncommon change. Exceptional participation and success in unraveling the plot will allow for some rare changes to be kept as well, by individuals who have played key roles in progressing the narrative.
How exactly this is handled will be a surprise at the end, but let it be know that your participation will probably affect how much you get back!
Beyond that, this is a PLOTTING POST, which means you can use it to make plans! The game chat is also a great place to discuss plots, so we welcome you to pop on in if you haven't already! A mingle log will be posted this weekend.