Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

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Neo-Paladin
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Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by Neo-Paladin »

This is just a little worldbuilding thread for a more European-centric superhero setting. Also, I am trying to give superhuman powers a common origin, making them magical instead of going for the kitchen-sink route.
Plus, it gives me an excuse to come up with superheroes and villains. That's all :)

Magic and the old gods

Magic had always been a part of the universe. From the times of Atlantis to recorded history, there had always been people capable of harnessing the secret energies that permeated the universe, allowing them to break the laws of nature as we understand them.

Some beings were so talented in the arcane arts that they managed to suffuse their very essence with impossible power, transcending mortality. Those became the ancient gods, with some of them creating entire bloodlines of ascended beings.

But, as power does, it creates jealousy, leading the gods to cleanse the Earth of every trace of knowledge that could lead other mortals to ascend to godhood. Thus, the truly world-shaking magics were lost to time, leaving mortals with simple spells and rituals of comparably paltry power.
Monsters still stalked the dark places of the world, but they, too, lost some of their awesome might of old as the knowledge how to replenish their innate magic became lost, the elders of their races outright slain by the gods and their hero-children.

Over time, the gods of old lost interest in Earth and humanity, moving on to other planes of existence or different planets, leaving mankind to fend for itself. The gods knew that, should they return, they would still reign supreme over every creature that flew, swam or crawled.
Things would turn out quite differently, however.

The Lesser Philosopher's Stone and the Blood Countess
Humans would prove to be quite ingenious, even with the meager knowledge the gods had left them, steadily advancing both in the sciences and the ways of magic. Nonetheless, it would take more than a thousand years before a human would once again step on the path that led beyond mortality.

It was the physician and alchemist Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim also known as Paracelsus, who, through his own research and ingenuity, developed a serum which he believed to be a liquid manifestation of the Philosopher's Stone. After imbibing it, he found himself to be strangely unchanging, immune to harm, to poison and disease, even to the ravages of time.
Alas, however, he still remained very much a normal human being otherwise, his perceptions and abilities unaltered.
Faking his own death, he then travelled the world to search for a way of perfecting the substance which would allow man to transform himself into its true, higher self.

During his travels, some of his notes were lost, finally ending up in the hands of a Hungarian noblewoman named Erzsebet Bathory. Desiring above all power over others, she began to experiment, using as one element the blood of young women she'd had sadistically tortured and murdered. The resulting substance was flawed, an abominably warped image of Paracelsus' formula. It granted her youth and power, strength beyond the ken of man and superhuman resilience, but made her dependant on blood, turning her into what was essentially a living vampire.
She revelled in her new way of being, now even bathing in the blood of those who'd died from her and her servants' brutal ministrations.
When her crimes came to light, she was walled in alive. Records say that she died soon after, but the serum would not let her escape so easily.
Instead, she remained where she was, aging and hungry but without the ability to rest in peace.

Strife and its children

The world kept on turning and soon, Europe was ravaged by the Thirty Years' War, a conflict on a scale hitherto unknown to man. War, famine and plague decimated the population as old rivalries and petty squabbles among kings were settled in the name of religion.
The carnage and death emboldened and empowered the monsters that lurked in the shadows, granting them a tiny measure of the ancient powers they'd once enjoyed.
At the same time, witch burnings were taking place all over the war-torn Holy German Empire. Most of those executed were innocents, but those few who actually had magical powers often used them to lay curses upon their killers, curses which spread, adding to the misery. Slowly, the lands were tainted, almost irrevocably so. These times gave birth to the villain Witchfire.
Last edited by Neo-Paladin on Tue Apr 20, 2021 5:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Neo-Paladin
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by Neo-Paladin »

This war also saw the emergence of the Frozen, cursed undead beings created by bullet-charms. The origins of these charms is unknown and currently believed to lie with a vengeful witch or alchemist. Bullets carved with occult symbols were worn about the neck and would grant their wielder a certain protection from wounds – at the price of a tiny bit of their soul with every injury so prevented. Eventually, these poor beings became walking dead whose mere touch drained life-force from their victims, leaving behind freeze-dried corpses.

Frozen would turn up again and again in conflicts during the next few centuries, the knowledge of how to create the charms impossible to eradicate.

Gevaudan

Meanwhile, Paracelsus was still travelling the world, conversing with other alchemists and magicians, interrogating demons and angels, oni and djinn, in an attempt to perfect his formula. In the 18th century, his travels led him back to Europe where, in France, he encountered a man named Jean Latour, a poor peasant who was afflicted with the curse of Lycanthropy. Taking pity on the innocent man so stricken by unnatural terror, he offered to try and cure him using alchemy. If the Lesser Philosopher's Stone, as he called his imperfect formula, could eliminate aging and sickness, it might purify the body of one so cursed.

It worked, but not in the way Paracelsus had hoped. The tincture purified both the man and the beastly spirit that had latched onto him. Latour became unaging and immune to sickness, but the beast was invigorated as well, becoming a juggernaut of destruction that wrecked havoc on the countryside, becoming known as the Beast of Gevaudan. It took three years before Latour could gain control over his beastly side, becoming human once more. He then went into seclusion, enclosing himself in a cave, mortifying his flesh and praying constantly for forgiveness.

When he was freed from his voluntary confinement in the late 20th century, he would become the hero Gevaudan, the name a constant reminder of what the beast inside him could unleash if he ever lessened in his vigilance.

Baba Yaga

While this was happening, something was stirring in the frozen wolds of Siberia. In ancient times, she had been worshipped as part of a trinity of goddesses, an old crone whose presence signified death and the passage of time, forces to which she had bound herself. But when the other gods left, she had remained, albeit in diminished form, sleeping for centuries before casting off the weight of ageless slumber. Over time, the people of Russia would come to know the powerful old hag as Baba Yaga, one of the very few powers on Earth who still knew of the old high magic and the names to which even the elements would have to answer.

Seeing those people who populated her chosen resting place, she felt a strange kinship with them and the land, deciding to protect it from outsiders. Of course, as gods do, she would not offer protection without tribute, taking a few children every now and then to devour.

Bloodgreed and Revolution

Unfortunately for the world, the tainted elixir developed by the Blood Countess had not disappeared when her crimes were discovered. In fact, it had found its way onto the courts of quite a few nobles all over the continent. Power corrupts, the power to have life unending even more so. The corruption spread like a wildfire. At its height, about 40% of all adult nobles in Europe were blood-drinkers, feasting on their subjects. *
Of course, even those used to servitude can only endure so much before revolting and revolt they did, the spark of revolution erupting with the Storm on the Bastille where political prisoners and future blood-meals were kept...

* Here, we see the first significant divergence from our world's history.
Neo-Paladin
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by Neo-Paladin »

What followed was a long and brutal conflict. Out of spite, some members of the blood-crazed nobility gave the elixir to their troops, not caring about how this would affect the availability of foodstock for themselves. Noble guards ripped revolutionaries apart with their bare hands, drinking the blood that flowed down cobblestone streets in rivers.
But the fervor of the people was not to be trifled with. Quickly learning that the best way to ensure that the blood-drinkers remained dead was to decapitate them, thinkers among the revolutionaries began to devise methods to facilitate this quickly and efficiently, eventuelly coming up with the guillotine, which allowed for easy mass executions.

This and a general mistrust of the nobility eventually led to a country-wide purge with the stated goal to kill every single blood-drinker and destroy all traces of the cursed elixir. And, as is the nature of such things, not just the guilty landed on the guillotine. While it was possible to test if a person had drunk the serum, many times it was decided not to give the possibly superhuman monster the chance to escape and kill the unfortunate on the spot.

The Napoleonic Wars

After several years of bloody mayhem which mainly served to kill those blood-drinkers who'd been too overt and drive the smart ones underground, Napoleon Bonaparte took power from the weakened directorial regime that had sprung up after the purge and Reign of Terror had ended.

A military genius, he quickly realized that magic, if used in an organized, regimented manner, could be used to cement his rule and allow him to expand his influence far beyond the borders of France.
Once he had secured his position as Emperor, he sent out men to track down sorcerers, witches and alchemists and "persuade" them into serving in the military. These Auxiliares Special would put their particular talents to good use aiding the conquest of Europe. It was the first time since the days of the Celts and the Roman Empire that magic was used in a military capacity. It would not be the last.

Other nations scrambled to find a way to fight against Napoleon's highly-motivated and magically-augmented troops, but failed. Napoleon's Army pretty much steamrolled over Europe.
That is, until he decided to take on Russia. His sorcerers, now veterans of several smaller wars, were well-trained and capable of amazing feats...but they were no match for an ancient goddess who had decided to protect the people of Russia. Baba Yaga's retaliation decimated Napoleon's troops, especially wreaking havoc on his Auxiliares. Sickness and malnutrition did the rest.

It was the beginning of the end for his reign and, with his army destroyed and especially his Auxiliares utterly annihilated, he quickly lost his grip on Europe. In the end, he tried to commit suicide and was, in bad health, it seemed, finally shipped off to Elba.
Only his closest advisors knew his " attempt" had been successful....

//Okay, this is going into a direction I hadn't expected when I started writing the setting...
MacynSnow
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by MacynSnow »

//but that's the Neat thing about Alternative History.Place something in there new (like say, a 10mm Pistol in the start of the Napoleonic Wars or add low-level Super powered people in World War1 ) or have someone(s) make a different choice and watch how World History changes....
Neo-Paladin
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by Neo-Paladin »

True, true. I'm just giving magic a significant role since it'll be the basis of modern-day superheroics.
Harnos
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by Harnos »

Seems interesting. I would like to see how magic would be used in modern times of this earth.
greycrusader
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by greycrusader »

Very interesting start! I encourage you to post more.
Neo-Paladin
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by Neo-Paladin »

Oh, I will, no worries. For now, I will, however, keep focusing on Europe.
Neo-Paladin
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by Neo-Paladin »

Napoleon reborn

It speaks to his qualities as a strategist that Napoleon factored in the possibility of eventual crushing defeat, being neither naive nor blinded by power. Assassination was also a dire possibility. So, in secret, he tasked Gaspard du Nord, a sorcerer hailing from cursed Averoigne, a particularly ill-reputed and witch-haunted part of France, to find a solution to this problem.
Delving deep into ancient lore and, it is said, even consulting with ancient undead and corpse-eaters, Gaspard eventually unearthed a rite that would allow Napoleon to transcend death, albeit no longer as one of the living.
It was a gruesome rite, calling on ancient powers, on gods that had lost their humanity even before the other deities had left Earth. For four days, torrential rain lashed all of France, misshapen lizards, snakes and frogs amidst the raindrops.
It's said that Gaspard, persuaded by force but also promised a kingdom of riches and unlimited access to all the magical knowledge the Auxiliares had gathered, aged 30 years in those four nights, becoming crippled with senescence.
But the ritual was a success and Napoleon's soul was unmoored from his body and bound to a ring he always wore on his right index finger.
When defeat loomed after his desastrous campaign in Russia and several severe military setbacks across Europe, Napoleon ended his life, hoping to reemerge stronger and capable of besting those who sought to oust him.
But things are not so easy when dealing with forces of death and undeath.
What Gaspard had not told him - either because he himself didn't know or out of spite - was that the rite would mangle Napoleon's soul, turning it into a pathetic thing that barely managed to breathe a mockery of life into his body. It took him weeks to recover, something his physicians would attribute to his failing health.

In truth, Napoleon had undergone the final transition into a horrible form of existence - the dreaded Lich. Slowly, the former Emperor would grow into his powers, becoming more and more used to his new state. But the more he did so, the more strain he put onto the tattered remains of his soul, losing his humanity day by day.
Last edited by Neo-Paladin on Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by Neo-Paladin »

Harnos wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 11:26 pm Seems interesting. I would like to see how magic would be used in modern times of this earth.
What I can tell you already is that magic is a well-accepted part of life, but it's not like, say, Eberron, where nearly everyone can use magic. It requires a lot of study and natural talent. Yes, it can do things that can break the laws of physics and enable superpowers, but for everyday usage, technology is far more reliable and easier.

An experienced necromancer can kill a person with but a word. To learn how to do that, he'd need years of practice and some inborn talent for magic.

Someone with a gun can do the same. With maybe a week of training at the shooting gallery and a steady hand. Hell, someone without training and a steady hand can do that if they have a good day.
So, yeah, technology is still a thing.
This world has flying carpets and they are a wonderful working of magic. But, provided you have the fuel, a helicopter gets you there, too.
MacynSnow
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by MacynSnow »

So we're looking at a Steampunk-looking World that might use something like Technomancy?
Neo-Paladin
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by Neo-Paladin »

More modern than steampunk.
greycrusader
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by greycrusader »

Extremely well thought out and detailed. I really like how you’re building mood and tone for the setting, and providing a consistent sole source of powers in your setting. And I commend the historical research you’ve done, intermixing fact and legend.

All my best.
Neo-Paladin
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by Neo-Paladin »

Thanks. Not nearly done yet but I am slowly getting there. Hasve been rewriting the next part a couple of times, hope to post more this weekend.
Neo-Paladin
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Re: Earth-E: A world of Supers, Magic and Mayhem

Post by Neo-Paladin »

The year of night, part 1: The Messenger

By the year 1815, Napoleon felt ready to take on the nations of Europe once more. Alas, by that time little remained of him but an undead horror puppeteered around by fragments of a soul. He had lost nearly all that had made him human. His first act was to draw on the lifeforce of the entire 10,000 strong population of Elba, reducing them to withered husks while he drank their souls, invigorating him for further magical works.
In March of 1815, he landed on the coast of southern France, steering a ship made from sinew and bone, stormclouds in his wake and power crackling about his form.
It's said that even Baba Yaga felt his arcane strength. Here was one who was getting dangerously close to transcendence. A couple more centuries and he might manage to unearth the secrets of true godhood.
She could not have that.
But she had no mind to confront him directly. Of course, defeating him was well within her power, but what if the battle weakened her too much? Someone might come and steal from her...or the battle might be a signal for her fellow gods to return. The Old Crone was not ready to share power again.
Searching the country with the help of wolves, bats and crows, she eventually found a young woman, a fair and happy woman - or she had been before her husband had been taken from her by a harsh winter and her son stricken with a wasting illness. Since then, she was prone to wandering the woods in grief and despair. But even with sadness eclipsing her soul, Baba Yaga saw something in this woman, a spark that had never been ignited, the natural talent for sorcery.
Baba Yaga approached her in the woods, promising her to keep her son from wasting away if she would serve not just the old crone but Russia and the entire world.
The woman, Ilyana Worobjowa, desperate to save what was left of her family, agreed and Baba Yaga had her drink a draught that contained three drops of blood from her own veins, investing the woman with a tiny portion of her power.
From now on, Ilyana would be able to travel as fast as the wind and be shielded from the elements, no matter how harsh. Beasts would not harm her and neither would plants.
" Go forth", Baba Yaga told her, " go forth and warn the nations of the world. A darkness has risen in the land of the Franks and they need ways to fight back lest they will all be blown away as dust in the coming storm. Your son will be cared for, he will not want and he will not die. This, I promise by the roots and the rocks upon which the world stands."
Ilyana did as she was told. Within days, she had warned every king, every general, of the coming threat and while some laughed at her, for what could a simple peasant woman know of the wider world, a display of her power quickly silenced most of them.
After one week, she returned back home, having done as asked. But her boy was gone. Baba Yaga had kept her word, she had healed him and not let any harm come to him.
But the old crone would not give away a portion of her power without making sure she had leverage over whom she had invested it in. The crows told Ilyana that her boy was safe in the thrice-tenth kingdom where he would be young and healthy forever...as long as she would do Baba Yaga's bidding.
Embittered but powerless to free her son, Ilyana became Baba Yaga's servant, tasked with protecting Russia. In a very real sense, she was to be the first active superhero in the world, the Messenger.
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