There are many spirits wandering the world of GURPS Requiem. Most of them are contained within bodies, such as the Majestati. These men and women contain the souls of individuals of their race who lived in the past when magic was real. These souls are inherently magical, and can slowly transform the human body of the Majestati into their true race. These types of souls are called Nexuses.
A few humans have Nexuses which do not belong to nonhumans. These souls are those of legendary heroes. A man could be born with the soul of the Greek king Agamemnon, or the Roman hero Aeneus. These men and women are not Majestati, even though they too have a Nexus, which eventually changes their own body and mind, though not nearly as much as a Majestati's.
Magical spirits wander the world freely. These are created through spells and magic, sometimes by the Incubans, sometimes by their disciples the Adepts. These spirits are mostly invisible and only interact with each other. Some minor spirits can communicate to the outside world, either by appearing as a ghost-like image or by mentally imparting knowledge.
More powerful spirits can interact with the real world through magic. These spirits are deadly, as they can rarely be harmed except through powerful magic spells, or by magical weapons. Jotuns are examples of these spirits.
Some spirits, such as Guardian Spirits and valkyrja warrior-spirits, can physically attack people in the real world. These spirits can be damaged by magical weapons or by a normal weapon wielded by a magical creature, such as a Majestati or an Adept.
Spirits are not common in Requiem, though particular races or Adepts, such as the valkyrja and the Cult of Whio, deal with them more frequently.
No one is sure where the Incubans came from, or who they were before they become immortals with the power to steal magic from an entire planet. The Majestati and the Adepts have gathered some information on these individuals:
As much ingrained in the Majestati as the Second Coming is ingrained in humans, the Second Debacle is a myth that haunts the minds of all nonhumans. Virtually all Majestati believe that a time will come when magic is released from the Incubans and once again occupies the world. Nonhumans will again be able to compete with humanity, and magic will be alive once more.
How, exactly, the Second Debacle happens is not known. There are several theories, prophesies, and conjectures:
The Majestati try to keep track of their numbers, and have come up with figures that estimate the number of Majestati births since the casting of the Requiem.
|Year||Total||Single Race||Year||Total||Single Race|
1974 seems to be the peak year for Majestati births (since the Second Requiem happened shortly after the first, the djinn tend to peak around 1975). Every since then, the births have been sharply declining. Apparently, however, the spell still hasn't finished, as there was a single volsunga birth in 1995. Surely by the year 2000, no Majestati will be born through the Requiem.
Most Majestati that have been around for a while have heard the tale of Mei-Jin the ogre. Several dwarves of Clan Chando, a small British clan, stumbled across an extremely large, loud brute in a local pub. Amazed by this man's size, one of the dwarves picked a fight with the man to see if he could beat him. The dwarf was thrown through several doors in the course of the next few minutes.
Impressed by the man's strength, the dwarves got him drunk, and the man started talking about his mountain home in the East, and how when he was little he'd see the world around him differently than the other boys in his town. The dwarves, not exactly sober at this point either, decided that Mei-Jin was irrefutably an ogre, and they told him.
Mei-Jin had no problem believing the dwarves. It made a lot of sense to him, and he quite matter-of-factly accepted the theory behind the Majestati. Over the next few months, Mei-Jin did considerable research on his family history, trying to find if there were any others that may share his magical blood. Unfortunately, he found nothing. He did, however, continue training with his dwarven friends. The Chando dwarves report that he developed great, inhuman strength, and when in his true form, he could chew rocks that they gave him, much to their amusement.
The Chando dwarves were very secretive of their new friend. For whatever reasons, they chose to keep him a secret from the other Majestati. After one year of being with the Chando dwarves, Mei-Jin decided that he would go east and look for more of his kind. He bid farewell to the dwarves and left, which would be the last time the dwarves saw him.
Mei-Jin kept in contact with the dwarves as he traveled throughout Europe and Asia. At first, he was undaunted by his lack of success in finding other ogres, but his mood steadily got worse, and many of his later letters were short and depressing. Mei-Jin wrote that he had discovered three ogres in a small village in China, and that he was preparing to tell them of their magical heritage. His letters show that he was very excited by his new discovery, and that he had fallen in love with one of them.
The Chando dwarves only got one letter after Mei-Jin's discovery. It was extremely abrupt, and read, "I have failed. I am empty."
Shocked by this letter, the Chando clan immediately contacted the Elven Council in Ponthieu and Clan Andwari. Several Chando dwarves went east to find their friend, but they had no luck. Mei-Jin has not been heard from in several years; most of the dwarves that knew him believe that he grew so depressed that he either committed suicide, or lost all of his magic and is still wandering around Asia.
Elfhame is the legendary city of the elves, located in what is now known as Ponthieu, France. In the days before the Debacle, it was populated by over a thousand elves, who worked in its halls and danced in the large forest surrounding it. The entire city was created using the strongest of magic, so when the Debacle swept the land, the place collapsed.
After the Requiem, the Incuban Prospero felt that he owed the elves something. To help them gather and relearn their magic, he traveled to Ponthieu and used his magic to rebuild the crumbled remains of Elfhame. Within hours, the city was practically brand new, except for the fact that it was unpopulated. Prospero's spell also brought back many of the items that were kept in Elfhame -- magical items, scrolls, books, and weapons. It is from the few books found here that the ylphi learned so much about their history.
Eventually, Prospero guided elves to their magnificent city. Today, it is the home to barely a hundred elves, who live there, study the place, and communicate to the other Majestati. The Elven High Council resides here, along with the Sylphi Council. Many elves travel to Elfhame each year, stay awhile to learn about themselves and the others, and then return to their homes.
Elfhame, still located in a fairly deep forest, is extremely well-hidden, as most of it is built beneath the ground and under a large lake. There is a single main entrance to the complex, which is hidden in the trunk of a great oak tree. An elf always stands guard behind the door. All elves who approach Elfhame have to state their name and their status -- "Michelle Ranis, Fourth Cryari" -- before they are admitted.
The central level of Elfhame is where the great Council Hall is located, along with several rooms where the resident elves live. A large feast hall is also on the central level, where once a year, the elves celebrate and invite any ylphi willing to make the trip and come.
There are almost fifty bottom levels located deeper in the complex. Only a few of these levels have actually been re-explored by the elves, as they usually have better things to do than to sort through these areas. Besides, most of these bottom levels are more, empty, quarters. The elves have located a library on the third level, and an armory on the ninth level. Visiting dark elves like to stay on the bottom-most level, which contains a passage that leads to the second section of Elfhame located below the lake, which is where Telemachus' alchemy lab was discovered (see sidebar on p. 00).
The location of Elfhame is only told to trusted, and experienced elves. A few valkyries and dwarves know the location of the elven home, but few have ever bothered to visit.
Elfhame is a normal mana area, which means that any Majestati in the complex will be in their true, Nexus form.
Even though the Incubans stole magic from the world -- making all the world a no mana area -- there were a few locales that had so much mana, that even after the Debacle a little bit of it remained. These locations are called a variety of things -- sanctuaries, tempests, and mana hotspots being the most common ones. There are basically three types of hotspots:
Magical places -- These places had very high mana from the start, and were once great enchantment centers, homes to magical people, mystic shrines, and alchemy laboratories. Today, they survive as small, low-mana areas. The most famous ones are Stonehenge, the Mayan city of Chichen Itza, the sunken island of Thera, and Victoria Falls in Africa. The Valley of Kings in Egypt is the largest area, totalling a few miles, while the rest are less than one square mile. Recently, new spots have popped up, usually placed by the Incubans -- Elfhame and al-Azrad.
Places of Faith -- The Majestati also discovered that in areas where humans had great faith -- temples, churches, and "miracle-areas" -- mana had returned slightly. It is because of these places of faith that some Majestati believe that if humanity once again believes in magic, then magic will return. Examples of this type of hotspot include Mecca, parts of the Vatican, and sections of Jerusalem (notably the Wailing Wall).
Incuban homes -- The mana level also temporarily raises in the presence of any of the Incubans. The mana radiates about a mile from the Incuban, and follows them continuously.
Whenever a Majestati enters a low-mana area, he will immediately connect to his Nexus form and become his magical true self. While this has its advantages for Majestati who wish to use their magical abilities and Talents, the Majestati become identifiable as nonhumans, and are easy (though powerful) targets for those wishing to destroy them.
The hills and plains of Greece, once rife with magic and myth, are now empty and devoid of any magic. The cryari -- the ice elves -- have a small council in Northern Greece. A year ago, the cryari reported seeing a very strange event in one of the Greek fields near their council.
Apparently, a group of women dressed in goat skins and carrying large phalluses -- thyrsi -- came dancing from the nearby woods, singing a chant to Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and theatre. Two cryari looked at these women with fascination, as they women were definitely magical. They performed incredible, inhuman acts. The cryari report that they could jump several yards into the air, dig into the earth incredibly fast, and move at superhuman speed. In a continual orgiastic dance, the women found a goat and tore it to pieces with their band hands. Singing their praises even louder, the women danced back into the forest.
These women were obviously the bacchi, or the maenads, from Greek myth. How they appeared in modern Greece is not known, and they have not been seen since in over a year now. Some Majestati suggest that these women were not the bacchi, but in fact vampires. This does not seem to be a likely explanation, as the cryari witnesses emphasize that the women appeared during the day. Still, it makes all Majestati wonder what else the Incubans have brought to life in the modern world.
According to her Adepts, the Incuban Medea is using her own version of the Requiem to bring Sirens back to the world. Born beautiful, young women, the Siren's voices are magical, and can charm anybody who listens to them to have an uncontrollable desire to come to them. An incredible tool for flirting, most of the sirens have nasty psychological problems, and use their abilities to kill. While a few of these maidens have taken to sea to use their powers like the sirens of old, most are definite products of the modern world. They tempt people to climb up buildings to reach them, only to throw them off once they reach the top; they stand off busy highways and sing, causing deadly accidents; and they have also been known to sing during winter storms and Noreasters, tempting people to come outside and freeze to death while listening to the siren's song.
At most, there are only a few dozen sirens in the world, but many Majestati wonder if Medea is attempting to bring back a whole race. Adepts point out that the Requiem can only bring back the spirits of those who existed in the past, so there is no way to create more sirens than there were in ancient times. The same Adepts, however, do not know exactly how many there were.
The Innamorati were originally young, unmasked, lover characters from the Commedia dell'arte, an improvised Italian comedy. Almost every plot involved an Innamorato struggling to escape from the "master" characters to be with another Innamorato. The Majestati have adopted this name for their own young.
Innamorati are the Majestati who do not realize that their spirits are that of ancient nonhumans. They believe that they are ordinary humans in an ordinary world. Many of them realize that there's something different about them, especially since even Innamorati can inadvertently transform into their Nexus form.
These changes tend to happen under stressful, emotional, or dangerous circumstances. Innamorati that are suddenly attacked, or even in the heat of passion, can suddenly turn into their true selves.
Many Innamorati never realize that they have suddenly changed into something entirely different. The Innamorato rarely feels the change, and the only sign that they are different might be the way people look at them.
Another odd ability that some Innamorati possess is the ability to speak in the ancient tongue of their nonhuman heritage. Occasionally, when dreaming, anInnamorato will cry out or mumble in another language. When Innamorati are angered, they also tend to lash out with words from these dead languages. Other Majestati use this to identify Innamorati. If they hear a man speak in another language, they know that he's Majestati.
While chasing a fenrir wolf through the mountain crags of Greece, two cryari, a valkyrja, and a volsunga stumbled across a dark cavern. Believing that the wolf had fled into the cave, the Majestati followed it in. In a few hours, the companions found themselves very lost in the labyrinthine tunnels.
After a day of trying to escape the cavern, the Majestati discovered a large underground river, whose waters were inky black. Even more disturbing was a rickety old boat made out of petrified wood that sat on the bank of the river, a heap of humanoid bones inside. Figuring they had nothing to lose, the Majestati boarded the boat and crossed the river.
What happened next is not certain; the Majestati swear that they were assaulted by spirit-wraiths and demons once they crossed the other side. The other side of the river, apparently, was normal mana as all four companions reverted into their true forms. Fortunately, the natural combat skills of the volsunga and the valkyrja protected the group from harm, though one cryari was dragged into the abyss by several spirits.
The companions found themselves in a huge underworld kingdom, with trapped spirits screaming and wailing while being flayed by powerful demon-spirits. Believing that they had found Hades itself, the Majestati fled, re-crossed the river, and eventually found their way back to the surface.
It's not sure that these four Majestati truly found the underworld itself, or if they were attacked by a single, powerful spirit who deluded them into thinking they had found Hades. They could have also stumbled into the resting place of Medea, or another Incuban, and the magical power of the place drove them temporarily mad. A few Adepts believe that this underworld is where all the spirits of the nonhumans went after the Debacle; others believe that it is perhaps the true underworld that is a horrific kingdom of cursed souls.
Still, the Majestati who know about this trip into the earth are fascinated. If an underworld exists below the surface of the world, and has magic inside it, then there's a good chance the magic could be released to the surface. Several Majestati have gone back to the cave in Greece where the entrance to Hades supposedly lies, but no other group has been able to find their way to this black river and the mysterious kingdom that lies beyond it.
Like all cultural groups that enjoy their individualism, the Majestati have adopted their very own fashions. Unlike modern ethnic groups, however, the Majestati have no need, nor wish, to flaunt their individualism and broadcast it to the world. Instead, they prefer subtler methods of communicating their racial ethnicity to the world of humans, and their own people. Most Majestati fashion blends easily with human fashion, though it remains distinct enough to look "unique" or "different."
The Majestati take their fashion trends from the few illustrations they have found of their people in ancient times. Like the historical clothing from the age, garments were made out of natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk) and draped over the body, though shortly before the Debacle, semi-fitted, sewn garments had come into fashion. This fashion trend continues in the modern world, where Majestati prefer the excess of fabric, grand flowing lines, and a natural silhouette in their clothing. Majestati usually wear a small symbol of their heritage. Elves and dwarves bear necklaces with sigils or runes on them, marking themselves to other Majestati. Additionally, the dwarves have their rings which also shows their heritage. The valkyrja and the djinni, however, have no "standard" jewelry pieces, though the valkyrja occasionally wear necklaces with Futhark runes on them.
All races still prefer natural fibers, though recently they have been wearing more exotic fabrics. Bombazine, challis, gabardine, moqueshel, sateen, and shantung are used most often. Though many Majestati wear ordinary jeans and t-shirts, most have a "special outfit" to catch people's attention, or just for special occasions. Majestati make modifications to ordinary clothing, or go out of their way to find extraordinary clothing, just to make it look slightly different.
The Majestati that live away from human society, such as in Elfhame or al-Azrael, wear exotic clothing very similar to ancient garments. Elves wear cloaks, dwarves and valkyrja don ceremonial armor, and the djinni wear loose, Middle-Eastern clothing from before the Crusades.
Modern elves prefer long, flowing, natural hair, mimicking the style of their ancient ancestors. Some elves wear their hair in unusual ways -- perhaps wrapped around their head and left to dangle on their shoulders -- but their hair is purposely kept as natural as possible. Dwarves prefer short-trimmed hair, though a good portion of dwarven Majestati shave their head. They always keep their beards neat, though they vary in length. The djinni have no one hair style, though it has become increasingly popular to shave their heads except for a single lock or ponytail. Volsunga prefer long hair, as do valkyries; both keep it neat.
Though the world as a whole does not know about the Incubans, the Majestati or the Adepts, there are a few humans that do understand the changes the world is undergoing. Most humans who encounter real magic ignore it to save their own sanity. It's not that they don't believe, they would just rather not think about it. Others are scared and horrified and put their energies into fighting the Majestati. The Zanni are those that choose to serve the Majestati, helping them find their own kind and deal with the modern world.
The Zanni are not an organized group at all; the term applies to any human who knows about the Requiem and goes out of their way to help the Majestati. The elves and valkyrja keep lists of Zanni in any given area, and will not hesitate to contact them in times of trouble. Sometimes, when there are no Majestati in a trouble spot, the Majestati rely solely on the Zanni.
The Zanni do not go unthanked. In exchange for their help, the Majestati give them small gifts and tokens of their appreciation. And the Majestati do not hesitate to help the Zanni if they are in trouble, giving them shelter and protection when they need it.