Part One: Worlds

 

Material World

This is similar to the physical world we all live in.  It includes all the planets, stars, asteroids, comets, nebulae, and so forth.  Of course, the comic takes place almost exclusively on Earth.  Spirits and magic are relatively rare in the Material World.  However, the Material World is the primary source of spiritual energy, which is generated by all living things.

The world of the comic is not identical to the world we live in, though it is darned close.  The town of Queen’s Cove, Maine, for example, doesn’t really exist, and of course, there are no werewolves, vampires, ghosts, or mages in our world (as far as we know).

 

Spirit World

A dimension very close to the Material World.  In many ways, the Spirit World mirrors the Material World, though it tends to be much simpler and less cluttered.  All non-sentient objects of the physical world have a spirit equivalent in the Spirit World: rocks, rivers, lakes, and even man-made buildings exist in some form, though most are pale reflections of their physical counterparts.

If the physical object is destroyed, the spirit counterpart may continue to linger in the Spirit World, in one form or another.  And if the spirit is destroyed (usually by something draining all its spiritual energy), the physical object may fall into disrepair.  If a physical tree is cut down, the spirit counterpart may suffer and even wither, but remain.  And if a lake’s spirit is drained to the point of death, the physical counterpart may become stagnant or even toxic.

Living beings, including humans and Others, do not have Spirit World counterparts.  However, there are spirits that embody the general attributes of all other beings.  So while the Spirit World has plenty of rabbit spirits, each physical rabbit in the Material World does not have a corresponding counterpart.

The Spirit World is a very dangerous place.  The Material World’s laws of physics are radically different, and what humans would consider magic is commonplace.  Fortunately, a Veil exists between the Material and Spirit Worlds, a barrier which prevents easy passage between worlds.  Werewolves, the Children of Luna, are able to step through the Veil with relative ease, and stronger spirits can manifest themselves in the Material world for short periods.

Very rarely, a normal human may stumble through a breech in the Veil and find themselves in the Spirit World.  As humans generate large amounts of spiritual energy, they would find themselves attacked by even the meekest appearing spirits, who depend on that energy to survive.  The majority of humans have no defense against such assaults, but like werewolves, mages are uniquely qualified to fend for themselves, and they are often able to use magic to manipulate and control spirits.

 

The Underworld

Another dimension close to the Material World, the Underworld is a dark, dismal place.  Since there are no living beings in the Underworld, there are no spirits.  Instead, this is the place for ghosts.  Only the most lost and miserable ghosts, or those banished from the Material World by some means, dwell in the Underworld.  Humans, most often mediums, and werewolves with Death Sight, might visit the Underworld in astral form, but it isn’t possible for a physical being or object to exist in the Underworld — with the exception of vampires, who are already dead and souless.  Spirits too might visit the Underworld, but as there is no spiritual energy there, they wouldn’t last too long.  Most ghosts prefer the Material World and would rather not even visit the Underworld, lest they become trapped.

 

Faerie World

This may be another dimension, or even another planet entirely, because the geography is very different from the Material World.  The Faerie World is home to the Fair Folk, or Fae, a species of intelligent beings with several races.  Like the Spirit World, the laws of physics are vastly different, and magic is commonplace.  There are several places where the Material World and Faerie World intersect, with established and stable portals between the worlds.  These portals are hidden and guarded in the Material World, to prevent humans and Others from accidentally stumbling into the Faerie World.  However, it is possible for humans, Fae, and Others to cross between worlds.  In theory, spirits and ghosts can also cross into Faerie, but it is extremely rare for them to do so.  Like the Underworld, spiritual energy does not exist in the Faerie World.

 

The Afterlife

This is the great mystery, and nobody knows for certain where people go when they “go into the Light.”  Entire religions have been built around ideas of what happens after one dies.  Heaven and Hell?  The Celtic Blessed Isles?  The Classical Realm of Hades?  Valhalla?  Happy Hunting Grounds?  Nobody knows, and the passage from life to the Afterlife, the Light one goes into, is a one-way passage.  Even the Celestials, the oldest and most powerful spirits, are clueless.

 

Part Two: Humans

Humans are, by far, the most numerous of the sentient beings on Earth.  The majority are completely unaware of the existence of the supernatural, though many believe the various myths and legends, to one degree or another.  Most humans are ordinary, everyday people, but some are also something more.

 

Wolfkin

Wolfkin are the human relatives of werewolves, and in fact, all werewolves are born as wolfkin.  Though there is no ‘werewolf gene’ that can be found scientifically, the ability to become a werewolf is definitely a family trait.  Because it isn’t genetic, it can’t be ‘diluted’, despite what some purists believe.

Every wolfkin is a direct descendent of at least one werewolf, even if that werewolf lived many generations ago.  Most wolfkin families are ‘in the know’ – a First Change can be highly traumatic, not to mention dangerous, so werewolves tend to keep their families informed about what could happen to their children.  However, some branches of the family tree can become ‘cut off’, especially if several generations have passed since the last werewolf was known.

Wolfkin integrate easily into the human world, and for that reason, they make the perfect buffer between werewolves and humans.  All wolfkin have the innate ability to sense the presence of a werewolf.  This normally manifests as a tingling sensation, often accompanied by the hairs raising on the back of the neck, when a werewolf in within a fifty-foot or so radius.  However, it is impossible to pinpoint a single werewolf in a crowd.

Wolfkin can also be psychics, magekin, or thralls, but they lose their wolfkin status if they become vampires or mages.  Wolfkin can also be halflings or fae-touched.

 

Thralls (Human)

Vampires often dominate humans through supernatural means.  This domination may be involuntary and temporary, but with greater effort and a small dose of their own blood, a vampire can enthrall a human for a longer period of time, often years.  Sometimes these slaves are people in positions of power, whom the vampires then manipulate behind the scenes.  More often than not, however, a thrall is used as little more than a servant for the vampire.

A thrall has a slightly greater strength than a normal human, as well as somewhat accelerated healing abilities.  Their charisma is greatly increased, making them excellent politicians and professional entertainers.  Vampires often promise to turn their thralls into vampires as reward for loyal service, but this rarely happens.

Thralls can sense the presence of a vampire.  This normally manifests as a tingling sensation, often accompanied by hair raising on the back of the neck, when a vampire is within a fifty-foot or so radius.  However, this sense cannot pinpoint a vampire in a crowd.  Thralls may also gain some of the abilities of a medium, such as being able to see, hear, and even command ghosts.

A thrall may also be wolfkin, magekin, halfling, fae-touched, or psychic.  However, werewolves, fae, mages, and other vampires cannot be enthralled.

 

Halflings and Fae-Touched

A halfling has one Fair Folk parent.  The other parent may be human, another halfling, or fae-touched.  Someone who is fae-touched has a Fair ancestor at least one generation removed from their parents (so grandparent or earlier).  Scientifically, both halflings and fae-touched are indistinguishable from other humans, as there is no ‘fae gene’.  Only the Fair Folk (the most human-looking of the fae) are able to reproduce with humans, so there are no half-goblins or half-trolls.

Halflings have many of the physical characteristics of their Fair parent, such as elongated, pointed ears, but those features are hidden from human eyes by a magical Glamour.  Many halflings can see through the Glamour innately, while others must use a supernatural aid, such as faerie glass.  There is no Glamour in the Faerie World, so there, halflings appear much like the Fair Folk.  Halflings also have access to a good deal of fae magic, though these abilities are rarely innate and must be taught.

The fae-touched sometimes have Fair-like features, but they are much milder than those of halflings – for example, their ears are usually of regular length and only slightly pointed.  Fae-touched are rarely able to perform faerie magic.

Both halflings and fae-touched may also be wolfkin, magekin, thralls, or psychic. Fae-touched can be turned into vampires, but feeding from a halfling is as dangerous to a vampire as feeding from a full-blooded fae.  A halfling that has been turned into a vampire is actually a redcap.  Halflings cannot become mages or werewolves, though fae-touched can.

 

Magekin

Like wolfkin, magekin are the human relatives of mages, and in fact, all mages are born as magekin.  Though there is no ‘mage gene’ that can be found scientifically, the ability to become a mage is definitely a family trait.  Because it isn’t genetic, it can’t be ‘diluted’, despite what some purists believe.

Every magekin is a direct descendent of at least one mage, even if that mage lived many generations ago.  Most magekin families are ‘in the know’ – an Awakening can be highly traumatic, not to mention dangerous, so mages tend to keep their families informed about what could happen to their children.  However, some branches of the family tree can become ‘cut off’, especially if several generations have passed since the last mage was known.

Magekin integrate easily into the human world, and for that reason, they make the perfect buffer between mages and humans.  All magekin have the innate ability to sense the presence of a mage.  This normally manifests as a tingling sensation, often accompanied by the hairs raising on the back of the neck, when a mage in within a fifty-foot or so radius.  However, it is impossible to pinpoint a single mage in a crowd.

Magekin can also be psychics, wolfkin, or thralls, but they lose their magekin status if they become vampires or werewolves.  Magekin can also be halflings or fae-touched.

 

Part Three: Psychics

There is a large variety of psychic powers that a human can have, though these abilities are relatively rare.  Although such abilities often run in families, it is also possible for a psychic to be born into a family with no other psychics in in the family tree.  Specific abilities may also be inherited (sometimes skipping a generation), but this is not always the case.

Psychic Abilities

Here’s a list of some of the most common psychic abilities.  There’s no limit to the number of abilities an individual may have, though it’s rare for a psychic to have more than one or two.  Although only humans can be psychic, many of these abilities can be duplicated or mimicked by werewolves, mages, vampires, and fae, though various means.

Mediums are a particular type of psychic and will be detailed further below.

Clairvoyance and clairaudience (far-seeing and far-hearing): These two abilities are often, but not always, linked.  Clairvoyance is the ability to ‘see’ an event at a distance.  This usually occurs as a vision, as a psychic mentally watches an event unfold.  Usually, the psychic can also hear what’s happening, though in rare cases, the vision is purely visual.  In other rare cases, the vision may only be auditory, as the psychic can hear, but not see, what’s happening.

Visons can be centered on a place, a person, or a particular item.  The more familiar and/or connected the psychic is to the person or place, the easier it is to see it from afar.  Normally, physical distance is not an impediment.

This is an active power, as the psychic must concentrate in order to have such a vision.  However, it can also be activated passively – when a close loved one is in great danger, for example, a psychic may get a ‘flash’ of a vision, or even just a strong sense that something is wrong with said loved one.  As with other abilities, it become easier to use with practice.

Precognition: This is the ability to see the future – or at least, the most likely of several possible futures.  The precognitive vision, called a premonition, is normally centered on a particular time and place and rarely lasts more than two or three minutes.  Premonitions rarely show events farther into the future than a week, though most show what may happen within the next twenty-four hours.  It is possible to ‘change the future’ by taking steps to avoid what is seen in the premonition.  For example, a psychic who sees herself falling down a set of stairs could simply avoid being near that set of stairs for the next day or so.  This is a passive power, though some psychics enter a meditative state in order to clear their minds and allow premonitions to occur more easily.

Psychometry: This is the ability to view, through visions, an object’s history, usually through physical contact.  More dramatic events leave a stronger ‘psychic impression’ upon an object, and these events are then easier to see by the psychic.  For example, a knife used for nothing but cutting vegetables for thirty years would yield few, if any, results.  But a switchblade used often in knife fights might yield several visions, especially if the knife was used (or even witnessed) a fatal wound.

Telekinesis:  This is ability to move and manipulate objects with the mind.  Though many psychics find smaller, lighter-weight objects easier to move, some believe that ‘size matters not’.  In nearly all cases, this ability can only be used on objects within the psychic’s sight, though if the telekinetic is also clairvoyant or uses astral projection, it may be possible for her to move an object that is outside her physical line of sight.  Telekinesis is one of the few abilities that can be used to affect beings and objects that are intangible, such as ghosts, spirts, and other astral forms.  This is an active power, and as with all abilities, it becomes easier with practice.

Telepathy: This is one of the most useful, and also one of the most common psychic abilities – charlatans who claim to have other abilities often use telepathy to ‘read’ their clients and tell them what they want to hear.  There are two types of telepathy – receptive and projective.

Most low-level psychics only have receptive telepathy, the ability to read or ‘hear’ the surface thoughts of another.  Those with projective telepathy can mentally send messages to another.  The recipient then ‘hears’ the psychic’s voice sending the message.  Those who have both forms of telepathy can hold full conversations with another.

Distance is never a factor, and language is not a barrier.  Even if the psychic and target do not have a common language, the message will be ‘heard’ in the receptor’s native language.

Most often, the thoughts a psychic reads are auditory – the words the target is thinking at the moment.  There may also be visual flashes, scraps of memory or imagination.  With practice, it is possible for a psychic to plant false memories into the target’s mind, though this is difficult, and the false memories often seem ‘off’ to the target. If the psychic is also clairvoyant, she may also be able to see real-time video, essentially looking through the target’s eyes.

Astral Projection: This is the rare ability to ‘project’ the psychic’s consciousness to another location.  Unlike clairvoyance, the psychic is actually present at the target location, though in ethereal form.  This form appears as a ghost, and is indistinguishable from a ghost though most means.  The projection is normally visible and audible to anyone at the target location, though with practice, the psychic can make her astral form invisible.

Though visible, the psychic’s astral form is intangible.  The psychic cannot physically interact with the target environment, nor can she be harmed through normal means.  However, magic effects that target ethereal beings will affect an astral form.  Mental powers, such as telepathy, suggestion, and domination, will also affect an astral form.  Additionally, if the psychic has other abilities, such as telepathy or telekinesis, she can use these while in her astral form.  With telekinesis, the psychic can move and manipulate physical objects in the target environment, including any living beings.

Ethereal beings, such as ghosts, spirits, and other astral forms, can interact with the psychic as though both were physical beings, and vice versa.  This can be dangerous, as most spirits and ghosts have other abilities, both defensive and offensive, which can harm the astral form.  If the astral form is damaged to the point of unconsciousness, it instantly returns to the psychic’s physical body.  The psychic then remains unconscious until the damage is healed, either naturally or through supernatural means.  However, the damage is only to the psychic’s consciousness (or soul), and there is no physical evidence of damage to the psychic’s body.  The astral form can only be permanently killed through extraordinary, supernatural means.  If that occurs, the psychic’s body dies as well.

In order to send an astral projection, the psychic must enter a meditative state.  Once this is achieved, the psychic ‘sends’ her astral form to the target location.  Familiarity with the location, or with a person or object at the location, makes this process easier.  The trip is instantaneous, and distance is not a factor.  The psychic’s body remains in a state of unconsciousness, which appears to be a deep sleep.  She cannot be awakened through any normal means.  However, another psychic with telepathy can communicate with the first psychic’s astral form, and thus warn of any danger to her unconscious body.

The psychic has no awareness of her body’s surroundings, nor even her body’s condition, while her astral form is in another location.  There is one exception, however: the psychic can sense when her body is in mortal danger.  The danger must be mortal and immediate – someone approaching the body with a weapon is not an immediate threat.  But if the body is fatally or near-fatally wounded, the psychic feels an almost irresistible urge to return.

The astral form can return to the psychic’s body at will (or when falling unconscious) instantaneously.  This is true even if the body has been moved to another location – the psychic can always sense the exact location of her body when she wishes to return.  If the psychic’s body has been damaged to the point of death, the astral form can still return to the body’s location, but not re-enter the body.  However, intervention, either medical or supernatural, which repairs or revives the body can allow the astral form to return to the body.  Under normal circumstances, intervention must occur within less than an hour, or the body will begin to decompose and be unsuitable for reviving.  However, scientific or supernatural means can be used to place the body in a state of suspended animation, allowing for later resurrection – but only if the psychic’s astral form (now a ghost) can be located and returned to the body’s proximity.

Though astral projection is normally used to visit a location within the Material World, it is possible for a psychic to visit the Underworld, the Spirit World, and even the Faerie World through this method.  However, this can be very dangerous, unless the psychic has other abilities to use as defense against ghosts and spirits.  Psychic abilities do not work in the Faerie World, but faerie charms that target ethereal beings will affect an astral form, making astral trips to that realm particularly perilous.  As with the Material World, the psychic can return her astral form to her body instantly at will from other realms.

Astral projection is almost always an active power.  However, in some circumstances, even a non-psychic may find her consciousness (or soul) in astral form if her body falls unconscious.  The astral form appears in general proximity to the body and instantly returns when the body regains consciousness.  This is what happened to Colt on the last page of Chapter 4.

Truevision (various): Another common ability, truevision is the ability to see what is normally unseen.  This is normally limited to a particular type of target.  For example, a psychic with Truevision (Spirits) can see and communicate with spirits in the Material World, even if they are invisible and inaudible to others.  Truevision (Ghosts) does the same with ghosts, as well as the astral form of a psychic who has made her astral form invisible. A psychic with Truevision (Ghosts) is called a medium, which will be detailed in a separate entry.

Truevision (Unseen) allows the psychic to see and interact with anything that has been rendered invisible, whether ghost, spirit, astral form, or a being or object that has been rendered invisible through supernatural means.  Note that while Truevision allows a psychic to see and communicate with invisible beings, things which are intangible cannot be physically interacted with.

Truevision (Fae) is the rarest form of truevision, normally only found in fae, halflings, and the fae-touched.  This ability allows an individual to see through the Glamour that normally surrounds the fae, revealing their true form.  Fair Folk appear to be elves with elongated, pointed ears; goblins appear as short beings with green skin, trolls are tall, blue-skinned beings, so forth.  This ability cannot be replicated through any means other than the use of faerie glass.  However, there is a fae charm which can bestow Truevision (Fae) upon an individual for a temporary period, normally until the next sunrise or sunset, whichever comes first.

All forms of Truevision are normally passive powers, always ‘active’.  Some psychics find this frustrating, as they are unable to ‘turn off’ the ability, and therefore see the unseen, even when they don’t want to.

Others: This list is by no means exhaustive, but contains the most common types of psychic abilities.  Other sorts, such as pyrokinesis and telekinetic kill, are extremely rare and often require complete and uninterrupted concentration.

Unless otherwise noted, all the above abilities can be replicated by non-psychics through supernatural means.  Werewolves can learn rites from spirits (or from other werewolves), while mages can use their technology to trap spirits and use their abilities in spells.  Vampires can also learn infernal powers which replicate psychic abilities.  Spirits and ghosts often have innate powers which are similar or even identical to psychic abilities.  A psychic who dies and becomes a ghost retains her psychic abilities, though it usually takes some time for the ghost to remember or re-learn how to use those abilities.

Mediums

Mediums are a specific type of psychic whose abilities center around death.  One of the abilities all mediums have is Truesight (Ghosts), which allows the medium to see and communicate with ghosts, even when they are invisible and inaudible to others.  Another common ability is Unseen Sense (Ghosts), which allows the medium to sense when a ghost is within a roughly fifty-foot radius.  This normally manifests as a chill down the back of the medium’s spine, though this is sometimes accompanied scent, which some describe as ‘like freshly fallen snow’.  Both of these abilities are passive and always ‘active’.

There are some other abilities unique to mediums, though an individual medium may have all, some, or even none of these other abilities.

Summon the Dead: This is the ability most often witnessed during a séance, though that ceremony is not strictly necessary.  A medium with this ability is able to summon a ghost from anywhere in the Material World or Underworld.  A ghost can resist this summons, at which point it becomes a battle of wills between the medium and ghost.  Once summoned, the ghost can be communicated with normally, though the ghost is not compelled to answer honestly or at all.  The ghost is, however, compelled to remain near the medium for a period of one hour, though after that time, the ghost is free to go where it pleases.

Banish the Dead: This ability is rarer than Summon the Dead and does just the opposite, banishing a ghost to the Underworld.  Normally, this banishment is permanent, though a ghost can later be summoned from the Underworld and is then free to go where it pleases.

Command the Dead: This ability is extremely rare and allows a medium to essentially enslave a ghost for a period of about one hour.  When successful, the medium is then able to compel a ghost to follow her commands or honestly answer questions posed to it.  Naturally, ghosts resent when this ability is used against them, and once freed, may attempt to retaliate.

Blast (Ectoplasmic): This ability is normally something only ghosts can do, but in extremely rare instances, a medium may be able to learn to use it as well.  The medium directs a blast of ghostly energy (commonly called ectoplasm) at a target.  Against a physical target, the blasts acts as a sort of telekinetic punch, though it may also involve some scorching.  This is rarely lethal in and of itself.  But against an ethereal target, such as a ghost or spirit, the blast acts more like a science fiction laser weapon, burning through the etheric form and causing painful damage.

 

Part Four: Hunters

Hunters are a special class of humans who are aware of the supernatural creatures that inhabit the world.  Some work to eliminate any and all supernatural beings, while others are content to study the lore and track paranormal activity, only intervening to protect humanity.

Hunters are almost always humans, though they can be wolfkin, magekin, thralls, halflings, or fae-touched.  In rare cases, one of the Others might, for one reason or another, ‘turn against’ and begin hunting their own kind, as well as other types of Others, for the benefit of humanity.  TV’s vampire Angel and the movie vampire Blade are examples of Others who become hunters.

However, an Other who fights for his own or his race’s benefit, rather than humanity’s, would not be considered a hunter.  A werewolf who dedicates her life to hunting down and killing vampires out of racial prejudice may have deluded herself into believing she is helping all of humanity, but she is really only serving her own bigotry.  Similarly, a vampire who seeks to control or destroy all Others within his domain for his own self-aggrandizement would not be considered a hunter.

There are two main types of hunters: hereditary, and those who have answered the calling after an awakening.  Often the former are the offspring or descendants of the latter.

Called Hunters

Hunters who have been called to the vocation usually started out as normal humans, ignorant to the fact that werewolves and vampires existed.  But some incident awakened them to the truth.  Perhaps it was a harrowing experience with a ghost, or maybe a loved one was taken by a vampire.  Whether motivated by fear or vengeance, these humans have answered a calling and dedicated their lives to hunting the Others.  On TV, Sam and Dean’s father was this sort of hunter, while in our comic, Christopher Dark was awakened at a young age and answered the calling even before he was recruited by the Order of Orion.

Hereditary Hunters

Sometimes, hunting becomes a “family business,” where parents or other family members introduce children to the supernatural world early, in order to prepare them for a life of hunting.  Sam and Dean’s mother and grandparents were hereditary hunters, though both Sam and Dean were introduced to hunting by their father.  In the comic, both Barnabas and Joyce Dunwich are hereditary hunters.

Hunting pays very little, if anything at all, and so hunters must seek other forms of income.  Some maintain ‘day jobs’ or rely upon non-hunter family and friends for support.  Others engage in less legal methods, such as credit card fraud and identity theft.

Hunter Networks and Organizations

By and large, hunting is a relatively solitary occupation, because most hunters tend to be paranoid and secretive, and therefore don’t trust even other hunters very far.  Small groups of hunters may form networks, especially utilizing the internet, where individuals share information and sometimes resources, but large, structured organizations are rare.  However, there is one organization that defies this logic.

The Ancient Order of Orion the Hunter

Often called simply ‘the Orion Society’, the Order is indeed of ancient, prehistoric origin.  Mythology and other legends are filled with monster-slaying heroes, any of whom may have been the original hunter, but the Order has chosen the name Orion for their mythical hero.

In their earliest surviving written records, the Order was dedicated to hunting and slaying supernatural Others, and over the centuries, their wealth and influence spread.  However, in the last millennium, the fear and paranoia surrounding the supernatural world became so fevered and widespread, leading to atrocities like the Inquisition and Witch Trials, the top leadership of the Order realized that, rather than helping humanity, they were harming it.  Millions of people, the vast majority of whom were innocent humans, were being tortured and slain, while the actual Others had become even more adept at hiding.

By the late Eighteenth century, the Order’s official mission had shifted from slaying all Others to simply tracking their activities and eliminating only those deemed the greatest threat to humanity.  The organization is vast, with over a million operatives worldwide.  The current leadership council is based in Paris, France, but there are small chapters scattered across the world, including Queens Cove, Maine.

The Order maintains one of the largest and most diverse libraries of supernatural legends and lore.  They also have the world’s largest and most complete genealogical databases.

Barnabas and Joyce Dunwich, as well as author Christopher Dark, are members of the Order.  TV groups of a similar nature include the Watchers Council of Buffy and Angel, as well as Supernatural’s Men of Letters.

Men in Black (the PSI)

There is a secret department within the United States government, completely off the books and accountable to no one outside the department, called the Department of Paranormal and Supernatural Investigation (or PSI).  Agents of the PSI are the so-called Men in Black of UFO lore, though the agency has both men and women.  Though some agents are mages, most are magekin or ordinary humans who often use mage-built devices to aid in their mission.

Like the Order of Orion, with whom they sometimes work, though unknowingly, the primary mission of the PSI is to investigate, and more importantly, cover up supernatural beings and events.  Also like the Orion Society, PSI’s official policy is to not interfere with the lives and activities of the Others unless there is a large and credible threat to humanity.

Unlike the Orion Society, the PSI agency is officially, though secretly, sanctioned and funded by the US government, and agents have the legal right to impersonate agents of other government agencies, such as the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and state and local law enforcement officials.

The existence of the PSI is known to the Order of Orion, and some high-placed members of the agency are actually Orion members.  However, the PSI does not know of the existence of the Orion Society.

 

Part Five: Werewolves

Werewolves are hereditary shapeshifters – there is no ‘disease’ that can be passed on through a bite or scratch.  Though there is no werewolf gene that can be identified scientifically, all werewolves are born as wolfkin and experience their First Change during or after adolescence.  Most werewolves shift for the first time sometime between the ages of 16 and 18, though some shift as early as 12, while others do not have their First Change until their early 20s.  It is extremely rare for a werewolf to shift for the first time after the age of 30.

There is no surefire way to predict which wolfkin will experience a First Change and become a werewolf, though there are some signs that signal such a change is imminent.  The wolfkin may experience disturbing, often violent dreams.  These dreams may involve werewolves and spirits, and often the wolfkin will dream about being a wolf and hunting with other wolves.

Another sign that a First Change may be imminent is that spirits will become very interested in the wolfkin, hanging around and observing, but rarely interacting.  If interrogated, the spirits are unable to explain their fascination with the wolfkin, and as with dreams, this is not an infallible method for determining that a First Change is about to occur.

In the end, there is no way to know for certain if or when a wolfkin might shift for the first time.  Roughly ninety percent of wolfkin never change.

Mating

Werewolves often choose wolfkin as their mates, though there is no law requiring this.  Unlike natural wolves, werewolves do not necessarily mate for life.  Romantic and/or sexual partnerships can be casual and temporary, as with human relationships.  However, taking a mate is considered a sacred act and is often accompanied by a legal marriage recognized by human authorities.

Werewolves may also choose to mate with ordinary humans, and the offspring of such a union are wolfkin.  Werewolves can also mate with other supernatural beings, such as mages and fae, or with their kin (magekin and halflings/fae-touched).  Again, their offspring would be considered wolfkin, as well as kin to the other parent’s supernatural heritage.

There is no supernatural prohibition against nor social stigma regarding two werewolves mating.  The offspring of two werewolves are wolfkin.  Although some believe the children of two werewolf parents have a greater chance of undergoing a First Change, there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim.

Vampires and ghosts, not being alive, are incapable of mating with anyone.  Vampires in particular are hated by the majority of werewolves, so any romantic relationship between the two carries a huge social stigma among both people.

Shifting Forms

A werewolf’s defining characteristic is the ability to shift to three different forms: human, wolf, and the hybrid war-form.  In human-form, a werewolf is physically indistinguishable from any other human.  Werewolves have slightly greater strength, stamina, toughness, and accelerated healing in human-form, but not enough to raise serious suspicions.

In wolf-form, the werewolf is again physically indistinguishable from a normal wolf.  DNA tests on any hair, blood, or tissue samples will yield perfectly ordinary wolf DNA.  If such sample are collected while the werewolf is in wolf-form, and s/he then shifts to another form, the samples remain those of a wolf.  In wolf-form, the werewolf has greatly heightened senses of scent and hearing, though their eyesight is somewhat diminished compared to humans.  They are stronger, tougher, and faster than normal wolves, but not so much so that they stand out as extraordinary.  However, their ability to heal wounds is vastly accelerated, often as much as ten times what would be considered normal.  Wounds close almost immediately, greatly reducing the danger of blood loss.  For this reason, most werewolves shift to wolf-form to heal battle wounds.

The war-form is the hybrid “wolf-man” made so popular by Hollywood.  The war-form is large and bipedal, with a very wolf-like head and tail, as well as clawed, paw-like hands and feet.  This form has inhumanly enhanced strength, stamina, and toughness.  Their fangs and claws can deal extreme physical damage, and they are also natural weapons against spirits.  Scientifically, a werewolf in war-form is considered an enigma.  Genetic testing is entirely inconclusive, most closely resembling a variation of a dog or wolf.

In all forms, werewolves maintain their minds and consciousness.  In war-form, werewolves comprehend and can communicate in human languages.  In wolf-form, they can comprehend human languages, but are unable to speak it.  A werewolf who dies in wolf- or war-form immediately shifts to human form.

Silver

All werewolves, in any form, are immune to most human diseases and poisons.  This includes alcohol and the majority of narcotics, which have little to no effect on a werewolf.  The one true vulnerability all werewolves share is to silver, which is poisonous to them.  Wounds made by silvered weapons do not heal at the accelerated rate normal for werewolves, and supernatural healing methods have only a limited effect.

Werewolves in any form may handle silver objects without harm, and they may even wear silver jewelry.  However, wearing silver jewelry (even something as small as a single earring or charm on a non-silver bracelet) or other accessories (such as silver-coated handcuffs or collars) prevent a werewolf from shifting forms.  This is not true for silver objects that are carried, however.

Lunacy

A werewolf in war-form is completely inhuman and could never be mistaken for someone in a costume, nor for any ordinary animal.  The sight of a war-form can leave a human paralyzed with fear, or it can trigger an extreme fight-or-flight response.  This affect is called Lunacy, and for the most part, wolfkin are immune, though the first time a wolfkin encounters a werewolf in war-form, it can be terrifying.

For ordinary humans, Lunacy has another effect:  disbelief and rationalization.  Later, after the worst effects of the terror have worn off, the human mind convinces itself it did not actually see a werewolf.  Instead, the human rationalizes the experience – it was a bear, perhaps, or a normal person in a really good costume.  This effect of Lunacy is what helps to protect the secret existence of werewolves.

Other supernaturals, like vampires and mages, are partly immune to Lunacy, while ghosts and spirits are entirely immune.  Non-wolfkin humans closely related or associated with Others, such as magekin, halflings, fae-touched, and thralls, enjoy no such immunity and are subject to the full effects of Lunacy.

Spirit Tongue and Wolfspeak

At the time of their First Change, all werewolves become able to understand and communicate in two additional languages: Spirit Tongue and Wolfspeak.

Spirit Tongue, also known as First Tongue, is the language of spirits.  It is an ancient and very guttural language, which humans often find difficult to learn and speak – though again, werewolves come by this knowledge instinctively upon their First Change.  Werewolves in all three forms are able to speak Spirit Tongue.

Wolfspeak is the extremely limited language of wolves.  It is a combination of vocalizations, posture, and body language.  Although limited in what it can communicate, the language is extremely complex and difficult for humans to learn.  Humans, even werewolves in human-form, may comprehend what a wolf is saying, they cannot speak the language themselves – the human body is simply not equipped to mimic the language of wolves.  Werewolves in wolf-form can communicate very basic, simple messages in Wolfspeak.  Wolfspeak is the language of natural wolves, and werewolves in wolf-form can communicate easily with such wolves.

Howling is a sub-language of Wolfspeak, and a surprisingly large amount of information can be communicated through various howls.  Werewolves in all three forms can communicate in howls, though human vocal chords have difficulty replicating the true howl of wolves.  Any human, wolfkin or otherwise, can learn to distinguish different howls and their meaning.  Some spirits understand Wolfspeak and other animal languages, but most prefer to communicate exclusively in Spirit Tongue.

Spirit Warriors

Werewolves are uniquely qualified to battle spirits, both in the material world and in the Spirit World.  In fact, they consider it their sacred duty to Luna, the Celestial spirit who serves as patron to werewolves, as well as Terra, the Celestial spirit of the Earth, who is Luna’s sister.  All werewolves can open small, temporary portals to the spirit world, though the war-form is the most suited to surviving in that alien dimension.

Although more mundane weapons can be modified for use against spirits, usually by imbuing and fortifying the weapons with spiritual energy, the fangs and claws of a werewolf in wolf-form are the most effective and efficient weapons against spirits.

Spirits are naturally intimidated by werewolves, so it is not always necessary to fight them in order to gain their cooperation.  Many spirits will willingly aid werewolves in exchange for protection against other, more hostile spirits or from mages, who frequently enslave spirits or drain them of their energy to power their experiments and weapons.

Cooperative spirits can act as guardians for packs and wolfkin.  Such spirits also teach certain abilities, called rites, to werewolves.  More about spirits will be discussed in a separate entry.

Pack Structure

The most basic unit of werewolf society is the pack.  A pack is three or more werewolves, and may also include wolfkin or other allies in support positions.  Although werewolf packs are inspired by the packs of natural wolves, they are also heavily influenced by human society.  The closest human analogy to a pack would be a close-knit family crossed with a small military unit.

Every pack has an alpha, who is not necessarily the strongest or best fighter, but rather the individual with the best leadership skills.  It’s important to understand that a pack is not a democracy.  Although a wise alpha considers the opinions of each member, in the end, the alpha’s word is law.

The pack’s beta is second in command, usually responsible for seeing that the alpha’s orders are carried out.  The beta is also usually the member who maintains peace and order within the pack and who determines any disciplinary measures that need to be carried out, usually with the aid of the enforcer.

Enforcers are the strongest and best fighters, who are also the most loyal to the alpha, often serving as his bodyguards.  A larger pack may have more than one enforcer, but one serves as the chief enforcer.

Another position within the pack is the scout, who is usually the fastest and most stealthy.  The scout is often the best tracker in the pack and the one who can most easily pass between the material and Spirit World.

Packs may also have one or more healer, adept in using both normal and supernatural means to heal injuries or cure illnesses.  There may also be one or more rite master, who has the best rapport with spirits and has learned the most rites from them.  The rite master can also teach rites to other members of the pack, though it’s much easier to learn directly from spirits.

A smaller pack may need to combine some of these positions.  For example, in the Swamp Things Pack, Delray is both the alpha and the primary healer, while Jack is both beta and chief enforcer.

Territory

All wolves are territorial, and werewolves are no exception.  Every werewolf, whether in a pack or solo, can claim their own home as a den.  Most dens are located within the territory of the werewolf’s pack, but there are rare instances when the den is outside the pack’s territory, or even within the territory of another pack.

Each pack claims an area of land as its territory, which usually includes the dens of werewolf members, as well as the homes and businesses of wolfkin protected by the pack.  However, this is not always the case, as homes or businesses may lay outside the pack’s territory or even within the territory of another pack.  As with dens, free passage to and from such places are generally allowed through the territories of other packs.

The borders of pack territories shift frequently as smaller packs combine or larger packs break into smaller packs.  Marriages and other alliances between packs can also change the borders of territories.  It is not unusual for larger packs to have territories spread out over a large area, sometimes separated by the territories of one or more other packs.  Border disputes are generally handled non-violently, though on occasion, turf wars can erupt if two or more packs attempt to claim a coveted piece of land.

A collection of pack territories is called a region.  The alphas of each pack within a region form Council, and one alpha is selected to serve as Alpha Prime of the region.  One of the Alpha Prime’s main duties is settling disputes between packs, as well as maintaining diplomatic ties with neighboring regions.

Neutral Ground and Free Hunting Land

It is common for certain areas, especially businesses, within a region to be declared neutral ground, unclaimed by any one pack.  For example, it would be foolish for a pack to claim the only grocery store or gas station in a small town as part of their territory.  Since these businesses would be seen as common resources, even the bitterest of enemy packs would join together to dispute such a territorial claim.  In Queens Cove, Common Grounds coffee shop, Maddie’s Diner, and the Republic Theater are all considered neutral ground.

Similarly, a region will have one or more areas that are declared to be free hunting lands.  These are generally swaths of undeveloped land, such as forests or large parks, where werewolves in wolf-form can run free and to hunt game.  In Queens Cove, Ravenswing State Park is considered free hunting land.

 

Part Six: Spirits

First, it’s important to make a distinction between spirits and ghosts.  Ghosts are the souls (for lack of a better word) of people or sometimes animals that were once alive, but have died.  They had a physical body in the material world.  Spirits were never alive, in that sense, nor did they have physical bodies in the material world (although embodied spirits do have physical forms).

Spirits are beings of energy, a sort of energy sometimes called chi or essence.  They originate and dwell in a parallel dimension called the Spirit or Shadow World, where such energy can be found.  Essence is created, however, by living beings in the material world, so spirits, especially stronger ones, often cross the Barrier between the worlds, seeking to feed on essence directly from the source.

The Barrier is a thin membrane of essence that separates the Spirit from the material world.  Essence flows freely through the Barrier, but even though they are made of essence, spirits must make a concentrated effort to breech the Barrier and pass from the Spirit World to the material.  It is much simpler for spirits to pass from the material to the Spirit World, requiring little effort.

Young spirits are generally small and formless, appearing as little more than blobs of energy.  As they grow older and consume more essence, spirits evolve into a more recognizable shape and take on the characteristics of a specific type of spirit.  Ordinary weapons have no effect on spirits, unless they are either coated in silver or infused with essence (see Essence below).

Essence

All living things in the material world generate spiritual essence.  Essence is generated by emotions and instincts, and the more primal the emotion, such as fear, or instinct, such as hunger, the more essence is generated.  Essence flows freely through the Barrier from the Material to the Spirit World, but the opposite is not true.  Essence can be drawn to the Material World, but it takes a conscious effort.

Both werewolves and mages use essence to fuel their abilities, rituals, and spells.  Essence can be infused within objects, either stored for future use, or to power various abilities.  Spirit weapons, for example, are ordinary weapons that have been infused with essence so that they can be used to harm spirits.  A spirit weapon that has been infused with more essence can be ‘programmed’ with one or more power that normally belong to spirits, such as Feed or Blast.

Nature Spirits

Nature spirits are as diverse as nature itself.  Many natural, but non-sentient objects (such as rocks, lakes, and streams) and lifeforms (such as plants and trees) have spirit equivalent within the Spirit World.  Over time, these spirits grow stronger and may take on sentience, and their forms may become very different from their Material World counterpart.  The spirit of Cricket Lake, for example, resembles a tall woman with long, flowing hair.  Other spirits grow older and stronger, but their form remains very close to their Material counterpart, such as the Old Man tree in Ravenswing Park.

If the physical object is destroyed, the spirit counterpart may continue to linger in the Spirit World, in one form or another.  If a Material tree is cut down, the spirit counterpart may suffer and wither, leaving it weaker and more susceptible to being drained.  And if the spirit is destroyed (usually by having all of its essence drained), the physical object may fall into disrepair.  For example, if a lake’s spirit is drained to the point of death, the physical counterpart may become stagnant or even toxic.

Nature spirits can also take the form of animals; however, sentient lifeforms do not have a spirit counterpart.  Although there are many rabbit spirits, they are not the counterparts of rabbits in the Material World.  Although there is no true limit on the form a spirit can take, it is rare to encounter a nature spirit in the form of a prehistoric or extinct creature, because spirits tend to take the form of animals that currently exist in the Material World.

Manmade Object Spirits

Some artificial, manmade objects have Spirit World equivalents, though they are rarer than nature spirits.  Older buildings, especially those that have been witness to strong emotions, often have counterparts in the Spirit World.  The form the spirit takes is usually a simplified version of the Material building, though as the spirit ages and grows in strength, it may take a more animated form, such as a person or mythological being.

Other, smaller objects may also spawn spirits.  A treasured teddy bear, for example, may spawn a teddy bear spirit, which might act as an ‘invisible friend’ to a child – not necessarily the same child that owned the original teddy bear.

Weapons are especially associated with violence, especially those that have been used to cause harm or even kill.  Such weapons may attract spirits of violent emotions or impulses, and these spirits may take on the form of the weapons themselves.  Weapon spirits may be sentient and even self-mobile in some manner, such as forming legs or wings.  Weapons spirits are not the same as spirit weapons, however (see Spirit Weapons below).

Celestials

The oldest and most powerful spirits are the Celestials.  All celestial objects (stars, planets, moons, asteroids, comets) have a Celestial counterpart.  These spirits can take any form, though they often take the form of gods and other mythological beings.  This may explain why humans have worshipped Celestials, in various forms, over the centuries.

Celestials are omnipotently powerful, able to alter the fabric of the universe, creating or destroying matter and energy with a thought.  Intellectually, they are nearly omniscient.  As such, they almost ever concern themselves with individual or even groups of humans or other mortal beings.  Societies, cities, nations, even religions are meaningless to Celestials, despite what humans or others might believe.            The Celestial of Earth is known by many names, but werewolves and most spirits know her as Terra.  Despite appearing most often as a woman, like all Celestials, Terra is actually genderless.

Star Beasts

Star Beasts are servants of Celestials, and as such, they are older and more powerful than most other spirits.  While Celestials rarely concern themselves with individuals, Star Beasts act as intermediaries and sometimes allies to individuals.  Star Beasts can take many forms.  For example, the servants of the Celestial Luna take the form of Star Wolves, while those of Sirius are Star Hounds.

Unlike lesser spirits, Star Beasts cannot be coerced or compelled by werewolves or mages.  However, as the behest of a Celestial, a Star Beast may become a companion or guardian of an individual or group, such as a Sentinel or pack.  Sentinels are humans who have pledged themselves to the service of a Celestial, and more information about them will be revealed in a future entry.

The Star Hound known as Scooby (whose true name has not yet been revealed) is a servant of the Celestial Sirius.  For reasons that are not yet known, Scooby has been acting as a guardian for Colt Bradford for several years.

Spirit Weapons and Mage Tools

Spirit weapons are ordinary, material weapons that have been infused with essence, so that they are effective against spirits.  In the material world, a spirit weapons looks perfectly ordinary, though activating a power may temporarily alter the weapon’s appearance.

Spirit weapons can be used to store essence, and the stronger the weapon is, the more essence it can store.  By infusing the weapon with more essence, a weapon can be ‘programmed’ with one or more spirit powers.  A weapon that grows older and stronger may develop sentience and adopt a personality.

Though mages sometimes use spirit weapons, it is more common for them to wield a wand or other tool which has been infused with essence and programmed with spirit powers.  These tools look like relatively innocuous objects, though mages prefer a more fanciful appearance.

Spirit Powers and Abilities

Spirits have a number of powers and abilities that can be used offensively or defensively.  Many of these powers can be learned by werewolves as rites and mages as spells.  Following is a brief list of some of the more common abilities, but it is by no means exhaustive.

Feed: Also sometimes known as Drain, this is an ability possessed by all spirits.  It is used to drain essence from other spirits, objects imbued with essence, and even living beings. When used by a non-spirit, the essence drained can be used immediately to power another ability, or it can be stored for later use.

Blast: This is a common ability possessed by many spirits.  With it, the spirit directs a concentrated stream of essence at a target, something like a laser.  Though it is often ‘programmed’ into spirit weapons or mage tools, it is not an ability that mages or werewolves can learn to perform.

Harrow: Another common ability, this is used to strike supernatural terror in the target.  This ability can be taught to werewolves and mages.

Breech: This ability is used to open a portal in the Barrier between the material and the Spirit World.  All spirits have this ability, as do werewolves.  Mages can learn it as a spell or program it into a wand or other tool.