There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy... Hamlet Act 1, scene 5
While magic is hardly commonplace, it does exist in the X-Project universe. It is largely hidden and its practitioners take care to remain underground.
- 1 What Is Magic?
- 1.1 Power Sources
- 1.2 Types of Magic
- 1.3 Limits and Repercussions
- 1.4 Magical Ability
- 1.5 Performance of Magic
- 1.6 Magic in XP
What Is Magic?
Magic is, essentially, the conversion of energy into very limited changes in reality. The energy can come from a number of sources and is channelled through the magic user; the spells, rituals and use of sigils provide the framework and direct the type of change that is required, be it as simple as levitating a feather or as complicated as opening a portal into another dimension.
Due to the fact the magical energy is channelled through the spell caster's mind and body, not everyone can perform magic. It takes a certain natural talent, as well as training and practice. It also takes a certain toll on the user, dependent on the type of magic being used and the intent behind it. Some spells require larger amounts of energy and thus damage the caster; other spells require a certain degree of the caster's own energy, and generate fatigue. Other spells, meant to injure or kill, exact their own toll on the caster, as a kind of mystical 'cost' for taking such an extreme action.
Magic is traditionally divided into "light" and "dark" or "black" and "white" magics. The type of magic is dependent on the intention of the caster and the type of energy traditionally used to perform the spells. 'White' magic users are traditionally concerned with balance, with healing and maintaining the world. 'Black' users tend to be more selfish, concerned with personal power and gain. Some serve darker powers, and in return for the abilities they receive, pledge their service and their endeavours towards bringing about whatever destructive goal those powers desire.
However, while the type of energy can impact the type of spell - and therefore the type of caster - the type of spell can also impact on the caster's intent. Certain types of magic have a tendency to corrupt, and while a user might begin using darker magics with a noble intent, continued use of those magics will turn the user themselves towards a darker path.
Magical energy traditionally comes from the four sources below. Generally, most magic users use a combination of energy sources, in order to maximise their spell casting. In some rare cases, a caster is 'built' to channel a particular type of magical energy, such as Amanda's tendency towards using the energy of places (cities in particular) and Nico's mutant ability to drain living energy.
Power can come from mystical objects; either created specifically for some purpose by a magic user at some point in time, or having absorbed power over time by virtue of their design, a kind of magical battery. All magical objects hold some kind of magical charge, however, not every magic user can access that charge and use it for their own means. Most of the time, only spells for which the object was created for can be performed using the energy held and there is usually a specific ritual or act required to 'unlock' that energy. In very rare cases, some magic users can drain objects at will and use the energy for whatever spell they wish: Amanda's mutation at one point had been altered to do this.
Some places are intrinsically places of magical power. Many are on points of convergence of ley lines, lines of energy encompassing the earth, others have become points of power due to particularly powerful events occurring there, such as sites where powerful magic has been performed or portals to other dimensions opened. In the cases of portals, sometimes leakage of magical energy into our dimension can occur when the portal has not been properly sealed.
Many mystical landmarks are well-known: Stonehenge and other European megaliths; Uluru, or Ayer's Rock, in Australia; the Valley of the Kings in Egypt; sacred groves of trees in Europe, Africa and Asia. Others are unmarked, sensed only by those with the sensitivity to detect the power they hold.
Some users have the ability to draw energy from less 'traditional' places, such as certain cities or from the land itself. Tante Mattie drew her power from the swamp and the city of New Orleans; Amanda now draws her power from cities of a particular size, age and/or significance.
All life contains energy; for some spell casters that energy is available to be tapped and used for magic.
The predominant method of using living energy for spell casting is for the user to draw on their own energy, in effect, using themselves as the power source. Mages in particular practice this type of magic. It takes a toll on the body especially, and as a result, users who take energy from themselves tend to be reluctant to use magic except for the least taxing or most critical of spells.
Other users, traditionally those who indulge in black magic, use the energy of others, through sacrifice of living things. Many restrict themselves to animals; others, such as Selene, take human lives. Blood magic is a form of this type of power source, where blood - the embodiment of the energy flowing through us - is used to generate the power required.Topaz uses the energy generated by emotions - an off-shoot of her empathic powers - to cast spells, leaving the 'donor' feeling flat and without affect afterwards.
Not all magics that require the energy of others are dark, however. Healing is the transfer of living energy from one person to another, in order to repair a wound or combat an illness. When the caster is unable to supply enough energy for the spell, it is common for others to be sought as energy sources, which is why healing often occurs in groups.
Chaos and Other Elements
Just as all living things produce energy, so too do the forces around us. Elemental or chaos energy is much more difficult to use and far more difficult to control, but it is possible to use this energy for magic, as Billy Kaplan does. Chaos energy does tend to lend a certain degree of uncertainty to the spells cast, however, and the stronger the source of energy, the more likely the magic user is to burn out.
Types of Magic
There are many types of magic and not all of them are listed here. These are the basic types that have so far been shown in X-Project:
Hermetic-style magic is that of the traditional wizard - it uses devices and books and requires a certain degree of intellectual distance. As such, it lends itself to the more 'mental' disciplines, such as astral projection and mind control, as well as energy-based spells such as shields and blasts. Dr. Stephen Strange is the best-known example of this type of magic.
Earth Magic/Wiccan/'Natural' Magic
Magic of the traditional "earth mother goddess" type, which incorporates spiritual elements with environmentalism. Earth magic lends itself especially to the production of potions and charms and to healing magics. Such magic users draw their power from places of high magical energy and avoid anything which would upset the balance, preferring to act in subtle ways rather than all out displays of magic.
Urban magic is an off-shoot of earth magic, in the sense that it draws power from its environment, however it also borrows from the hermetic tradition in that it lends itself to high-energy magics. It is certainly a more modern form of magic, having developed largely since industrialisation resulted in larger cities.
Chaos magic derives its power from the energy produced by changes in systems, especially great changes caused by small disruptions, such as the butterfly effect discussed in chaos theory mathematics. Practitioners, in order to make themselves more powerful, often create chaotic situations deliberately, and so are considered to be in the middle of the morality scale - not outright evil, but certainly not good, either.
The combination of magic and technology. The earliest practice was with the creation of devices such as the automata of Greece, but it is reaching its zenith with the combination of computers and magic. With the tweaking of spells traditionally intended for astral travel, technomages are able to project their consciousnesses into the Internet, as demonstrated in Phase 1 by Craig a technomage in Homily's coven.
Technomancy is also useful in the production of amulets and other devices, designed to project and extend the normal 'shelf life' of a spell, as seen in Remy's Eleven.
Demonic magic is, as the name suggestions, the magic of demons, and is thus firmly planted in the 'evil' part of the scale. Demonic magic is usually powered by some form of sacrifice, usually involving the spilling of innocent blood. It is extremely harmful to the human practitioners who attempt it, being innately corrupting and often far too powerful for human magic users to handle. Both Illyana Rasputin and Megan Gwynn have experience of this type of magic.
Limits and Repercussions
The ability to perform magic is generally limited to those with a natural predisposition. In all cases save possession/magical artifacts, training and practice are required in order to harness the ability - it is not enough to be able to channel/produce magical energy, there must be the knowledge of how to form it into actual spells. Magic without spells is simply energy.
1) Family Predisposition: Magic is known to run in families, such as the Szardos Clan. Frequently matrilineal - passed down from mother to daughter - the type of magic is usually also passed down, as well as the ability.
2) Natural Talent: Less common than the familial option, there are those individuals who, by a combination of genetics and personality, are naturally gifted. They still require much study and practice in order to harness the gift, however - they are unlikely to spontaneously perform spells.
3) Possession/Magical Artifact: In some cases, ordinary individuals find themselves in the possession of or possessed by a powerful magical item or spirit (such as Cain Marko and the Gem of Cyttorak). When this happens, an ordinary person with no innate magical ability becomes capable of performing spells, although they tend to be limited to the scope of the item/individual doing the possessing and frequently have no actual control over what happens. The stronger the item/possessing entity, the quicker the host's body burns out, requiring a replacement host.
4) Mutation: In rare - but not entirely unheard-of - cases, some mutations create an innate ability to perform magic. These are usually energy manipulators of some kind, who take in one type of energy and convert it into magical energy.
5) Supernatural Heritage: In cases where a supernatural creature has procreated with a human and produced offspring, magical affinity is often a potential result.
Performance of Magic
Magic users are limited in the range and duration of the spells they can cast by two factors - personal endurance/capability and the 'cost' or repercussions of particular types of magic.
1) Endurance/Capability: Essentially, the bigger the spell and the longer it is required to last, the more energy is filtered through the caster and the greater the strain on the individual. The 'size' of a spell is determined by how much of a reality shift it requires - larger changes require more magic. Similarly, the duration of a spell impacts on the user as well - to create a long-term change, more energy is required than for a spell lasting only seconds.
If a caster is using the energy of a place or object, they are limited by how much energy is contained in that object or place, as well as how much their ability lets them use - those 'in tune' with a place, for example, are more able to use the energy innate to it.
2) Repercussions: Unlike the use of mutant powers, magic has a 'cost' that goes beyond physical fatigue. The intention behind performing a spell, as well as the type of magic it is, have just as much impact on the user as how large a spell is. Thus, a user who performs magic solely for selfish purposes will find themselves more drawn to black magic - and its accompanying issues. A user who performs magic for others tends to be drawn more to white magic. However, because all magic is about changing reality, most practitioners preach caution in how much is used at all - using magic for simple tasks leads to an over-dependence on magic and potential backlash.
Magic in XP
See the Magic Users of XP here.
The Winding Way
Magic users of P2 “walk the Way” or “walk the path”. Like the previous version, they attain greater power through various magical acts. For those on the Dark Path the ultimate goal is to unleash magical forces on the world in order to gain more power. For those on the Light Path, there is no reward as such, but they work towards becoming the guardians of the world, protecting it from those who would unleash chaos and hell.
For the various magical types things that have already been introduced, or are part of people’s backgrounds, everything fits on the Way somehow. The Ancient One and their acolytes, they’re at the pinnacle of the Light Way, whose job is to keep Dormammu and his ilk out of our world. Nicholas Harkness and the followers of Chthon, they’re on the Dark Path, seeing chaos magic as a means of attaining wealth and ultimate power. Asgard is predominantly Light, but the Dark Elves’ realm is, well, Dark. And so on. Magic users are strongly encouraged to pledge to either the Light or the Dark, but there's plenty of room for shades of grey. The Light shuts its eyes to some of the methods used by its people, there are those on the Dark path who are good people... the paths are an end goal, in a lot of ways, and the methods used to achieve those aims - stop the end of the world, create the end of the world - tend to not be as important as getting to those aims. Only actual magic users are recruited - sensitives and those with magical knowledge but no innate power are left alone.
So far the mansion's magical contingent has stayed under the radar, but the Winding Way has taken notice of them at last and they are approached by elements from both sides requiring them to make a choice as to where on the Way they will travel. Amanda Sefton is extremely suspicious of anything like this considering her own experiences and she asks for time to decide before warning all the other magic users that they may be recruited. If they want to join, she says, that’s up to them, but if they don’t, they don’t have to. Amanda is very big on free choice. Eventually, the Powers That Be get tired of waiting and insist on decisions being made. Amanda tells both sides to sod off - she’s a free agent, she refuses to walk any path and no-one can make her. The rest do what they want to do. But the upshot is that the Winding Way is aware of them and there will be various attempts to recruit, seduce, coerce and convince them to join the Way.
The following magical items have appeared in X-Project:
- Soulsword: Created by Illyana Rasputin out of a piece of her soul, the Soulsword can disrupt magic and slay demons.
- Dweller's Staff: A magical staff that was used by D'Spayre and her sister Spite to summon the Dweller into Tandy Bowen's body. It was first used to bind him in his prison. It has been recently discovered it is Atlantean in nature. Dweller stole the Staff from Amanda in 2019, the current location of the Staff is unknown. Tandy is sure Dweller destroyed it.
- The ten rings/seals of Qin Shi Huang: Ten rings, each of which gives the wearer a different power. In the possession of the Mandarin.
- Sue's necklace from the magical cave: A necklace with a blue stone, which reacts to the presence of Namor Mazur by glowing. A rune of unknown meaning also appears. Protected Sue Storm from a magical attack. When Sue fell during the Dark Phoenix attack on the mansion, Tandy picked it up and carries it around.
- The Gem of Cyttorak: A fist-sized ruby, endowed with the power of the Elder God, Cyttorak. It was discovered in a temple in Vietnam by Cain Marko and gave him increased strength and mass, as well as youth and longevity.
- Staff of One: an ancient and powerful artifact, which requires blood magic to emerge and be used. It is notoriously unstable and will twist the user's spells to its own ends.
- Kylun's blessed swords: Blessed by Zz'ria and given to Kylun in his quest against evil, these two Tibetan swords are effectively unbreakable, can cut through most mundane substances, and are specifically designed to counter and destroy evil magic and its creatures. The swords will not harm anyone of pure heart and good intention.
- The Sword of the Black Knight: A cursed sword, which allows the soul of the first Black Knight to take over whoever possesses it.
- Totemic Statue of Fin Fang Foom: A dragon statue that allows the owner to control the dragon, Fin Fang Foom and to replace members of the 99 individuals who compose the dragon's form.
- Orb of Fortis: A crystal globe, designed to absorb and contain mystical energy. Bought by Amanda from Patches, a black market magic dealer, now in the care of Stephen Strange.
- The Devourer: A ring which channels the magical energy of a dying magician or witch into the wearer. It allows a non-adept, without innate magical ability, to be a magic user.
- Soulsword: Created by Illyana Rasputin out of a piece of her soul, the Soulsword can disrupt magic and slay demons.
It has been established there are other dimensions out there. Some of them lend themselves more to magic than science: