This is a brief summary of the principles, rules, and main features of my setting, the Inkliverse: the Sundered World.
The basic idea is that major fictional works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Willaims—all members of an informal literary club called "the Inklings"—are true, or as true as possible. The works used are Lewis's Space Trilogy and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and associated works (his "Legendarium").
I have not included the Narnia stories in any open way.
Charles Williams's work is present mostly in his treatment of Arthuriana, as transmitted by Lewis. I draw on his novels as convenient.
I draw on other authors, too, notably Tim Powers.
I have had to trim here and there to fit things into modern reality better. Tolkien's geography is wrong or misleading, and the world was always round. Lewis's astronomy is a misunderstanding.
Because the Inklings were Christians (and because I am), Christianity is true in this setting. But our Christianity is "inclusivist"—the default state of human beings is saved, and you don't go to hell for belonging to the wrong religion or muffing a sacramental checklist. Characters can go to hell, but they have to march in on their own feet and slam the door behind them, by being stubbornly cruel or selfish.
This is a fantasy setting in the contemporary world, so there has to be a way of hiding the fantasy elements. For this, I have invented the Sundering. This is a twist of luck that hides magic from the mundane public. Try anything that makes magic public and you have worse and worse luck until you stop. Try to hide magic from the public and you have correspondingly good luck.
The Sundering is not leak-proof. Myths and legends seep through. Individuals can discover the world of supernatural events, become "Sundered," through diligence on their part, or someone else's part, or through enough weird luck.
Whole nations (small ones, but nations) hide behind the Sundering.
No one knows why it is there.
Some fantasy settings freely pull in creatures from any mythology. This is one of those. The setting may be Christian, and therefore give Judeo-Christian folklore some priority, but critters up to and including pagan gods are allowed in, on conditions. This, after all, is what Lewis did in his Space Trilogy.
Every fantasist modifies in their own way. In my case, many things that are classes of creature are something else in the Inkliverse. Being a "god" is a social position. "Brownie" is a job. "Vampire" is a skill. And so forth.
Note that these facts are not generally known to the population of the setting. European fays don't generally know what Egyptian gods are, nor do Mad Scientists know what's up with vampires, and so forth. Ordinary people who happen to be Sundered may be deeply bewildered and deeply mistaken.
There are four main approaches to the mind/body problem: physicalism, holism, panpsychism, and dualism (and then there are forms of idealism that deny the body and forms of physicalism that deny the mind). All have problems spanning the chasm between mind and body. So I propose a third thing, neither mind nor body, explicitly to plug the gap. "Everything should be made as simple as possible," Einstein said, "but no simpler."
This thing is what medieval Scholastics called "animal spirit." This is all very abstract and metaphysical, but it serves a purpose in this fantasy setting, because I identify "animal spirit" with that agency variously called mana, prana, chi, qi, vis, numen, baraca, foyson, and more names besides. It glues the will to the world, and it is the agency of both incarnation and magic. Magic, indeed, is only a diluted form of incarnation.
So that's the basis for the magic system.
It wouldn't be a fantasy setting without magic, would it?
There are two forms of magic in the setting. Magia is magic simply by having magic powers. You do the magic thing as directly as you move your fingers, or at least as directly as you speak a language you are fluent in. Goetica is a matter of pacts and rituals and incantations and, really, amounts to getting supernatural beings to do magical things for you. It depends on something else's magia.
Magia can be good or evil, just like any natural ability. Goetica strongly slants evil, because the supernatural beings that are willing to take part in it are almost always infernal. Innocent goetica is a theoretical possibility, but not much of an historical reality.
Forms of magic available to creatures as mundane as humans include the historical forms that were and are actually believed in, of which the flashiest is shamanism or astral projection. But, just for fun, we also allow even flashier forms, "cinematic" forms, mostly varieties of "thematic" magic—magic that is about some selected thing: fire magic, book magic, electrical magic, and so on. Cinematic, thematic magic is well Sundered.
Different kinds of creatures have various strict limits on the kinds of magic they can do. For instance, the djinn, who are very powerful, can truly shapeshift and teleport. Fays can shapeshift but not teleport, though they can approximate it or fake it. Humans can do neither, though again they can approximate.
Certain changes of state are irreversible in this setting, barring miracle, including:
This is a list of the kinds of characters found in the setting. Each type has variations, and there are crosses between them.
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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2021