Altera Modern Premise
The world of Altera is not too far from our own. Fundamentally, there is only one difference between the two. In Altera, magic is real.
Magic is one of the five fundamental forces of the universe, along with gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak force. It is unique in that it extends beyond the traditional plane of reality, existing usually in a plane all its own. However, all living creatures serve as sieves and gates for this magic to leak through to our dimension. Magic exerts control over all things including matter and energy in every form. The ability for living things to utilize magic requires a mix of innate ability and understanding of the Arcane Laws.
The Arcane Laws:
1. Magic is organized. – Magic divides itself into categories depending on what it is best suited to affect in our world. For example, magic that has the property of elemental water will be especially well adapted to affect water and similar substances. The magical elements are Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Lightning, Metal, Sound, Energy, Mind, Nature, Time, Space, Void, Chaos.
2. Magic is temporary, but its effects are not. – For example, fire produced through magic will soon fade, but the objects it burnt will not return to their original condition.
3. Magic is consistent. – Under the same conditions, magic will always behave the same way.
4. Magic must be channeled through living things. – It can be channeled through innate ability or the use of spell formulae. Magic spells are specific formulae involving specific cases in magic manipulation designed to perform a specific task. General elemental control does not require the use of these formulae.
5. Magic is sentient. – Magic has awareness. The old cultures called them gods, but modern science explains them as collective intelligences organized by magical category. This is the most contentious and least understood the Arcane Laws.
These laws provide the most basic understanding of magic. They are relatively recent discoveries, first coming into light during the Renaissance. Before that, almost all understanding of magic was lucky guesswork or wrong. Mages were talented and lucky individuals born into their roles, and could not be made.
Nowadays, magic is commonplace. We use it in our everyday lives, and many people have careers that involve the study and application of magic. Alchemists work with scientists in traditional fields to come to new and more innovative solutions to our problems. Children learn magic in schools and governments pass laws regarding the use of magic like any other aspect of life.
Magic does more than just affect the human experience. It alters the land, the animals and in some cases, sentient life. In Altera, the root of life is its connection to magic. With magic being a fluctuating and dynamic force, life has developed in many ways. In addition to humans as you may know them, there exist several other races of livingkind or “common races”, as they have come to be called.
- There exist the Anarchs and Exarchs, vestiges of age-old magical influence on the world.
- The Azra, a race of dragon-shifting humanoids that sprung from a cursed dwarf clan.
- Dwarves conquer the worlds deserts and tundra, making the environment bend to their will.
- Elves live in contract with the trees, living long and peaceful.
- Kwatek are the precursors of sentient mammalian life.
- The Mer live in vast underwater societies, extending along rivers across continents.
- The Nageen are serpent people that lived underground for many centuries.
- Sagraman are humans who have been touched by magic and have bonded with animal familiars.
In certain cases, the influence of magic has been guided by the hand of man. Three of the common races today came about due to our experimentations with magic.
- Malpa are the product of mer experimentation with the resurrection of the dead. Instead they produced beings made of liquid held together by a network of magical energy.
- During the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, the alchemists of the world became obsessed with the creation of life through magic. A nameless alchemist succeeded and created the Gearwrought.
- During the first World War, each side feared the loss of their countrymen in battle. To rectify this, each side took to creating soldiers through magic. The result was the Glaat race, which comes in Centaur and Minotaur variants.