Saturday, February 1, 2014
Supernaturals in Divine Blood - Exposition
This has been noted as a bit more aimed at people already familiar with the setting. I'll try to put up a more story-formatted version of this later. But here's the info for now.
Divine Blood is unusual in terms of Urban Fantasies and Superhero type settings just because of the numbers of people involved who possess "superhuman" abilities. The graphic below deals with primarily Earth Populations. Only the God and Demon populations include people that live in one of the dimensional shards that occupy Earth's cosmology. The ratio of people with psychic abilities to people who are completely "normal" is a very close to 1 in 100. This means that the average person probably has met multiple psychics in their life. Roughly 7 people out of every 10,000 aren't even human by either scientific, psychic standards or both.
This ratio surpasses that of Marvel before they decided to kill or depower the vast majority of mutants in the world. It is also much higher than you would find in DC's world. Despite this, the majority of people in the world don't really know about the supernaturals in their midst. The level of secrecy about humans and non-humans is rather closer to the situation in Supernatural, Dresden Files and/or the various World of Darkness iterations, all of which have much smaller populations of supernaturals.
The reason for this huge population meshing with the secrecy is simple, it's a question of attitude.
In Marvel or DC Universe people with superpowers include several megalomaniacs that are out to conquer the world in flashy style. Likewise, there are a number of superheroes who go out of their way to stand out and be noticed doing their heroism in the public eye. These attention seekers make it impossible to conceal from the world that such superpowers exist.
In WoD, Supernatural and Dresden, the supernatural remains concealed only through the fact that supernaturals are rare and most are making an effort at their various Masquerades. Many of the supernaturals are naturally antagonistic or even predatory toward humanity. Others are completely alien to Earth's reality or are somehow inimical to it.
In Divine Blood, the period when such attitudes were still common ended roughly five to ten thousand years ago. Those sentient beings that were openly hostile to humanity or other races have mostly died out or left the Earth. Those left behind are those that either cooperate with humanity, and have evolved to better do so, or else stay out of humanity's way. Even the Gods and Demons decided to stop interfering with humanity on a broad scale around eight hundred years ago, though they still get involved in matters local to wherever they happen to live.
The average supernatural in most settings is probably involved in dangerous activities fairly frequently, often provoking such dangers. The most dangerous activity most supernaturals might face on average in Divine Blood is driving to work or maybe dodge ball, if they're still in school. Despite that large population of supernaturals, the number that are actually trained and prepared for a fight is rather low.
The "Masquerade" in Divine Blood is largely accidental. It came in a layered series of events such as the splintering of the Faerie Courts, the Compact between Yomi and Nirvana, the fall of Camelot, the withdrawal of the gargoyles from Earth as a whole, the Purges of the Created Races and on through the Christian witch hunts of the late medieval period continuing on into the colonial time. Supernatural populations remained secret for largely their own protection or choice and their numbers were much smaller at the time. Eventually, secrecy became a tradition as most of those involved grew old, died and left things to their heirs; or a habit for the Gods, Demons and other assorted Immortals.
Once the world had mostly forgotten supernatural powers and beings, they calmed down and there started to be a population spike, as happens at times in periods of peace. Starting sometime in the Victorian Age, as European control of the world started to wane and an interest in spiritualism started to rise, the Families, minor-races and the like felt more comfortable about raising larger families. Psyche came into being and began to act as a way of efficiently getting protectors to the right places to deal with dangerous psychics or threats from outside. More apprentice shapers, channellers and magicians were taken on, spreading the psychic arts that anybody could learn. By 1915, Psyche and the Families were already planning a phased return of supernaturals to the public awareness. Even the Gods and Demons have noted that humanity will likely start to reach their level of evolution relatively soon.
Nirvana has considered that humanity will likely be at the level of the Gods currently in maybe a thousand years. Yomi, being slightly more involved with humanity, expects it to take about half that time. Psyche's plan to phase supernaturals back into the public was originally slated to take about three hundred years, with contingencies in place if the public at large learns about it early, like in 100 years. All three have vastly underestimated the population boom that has occurred in the last fifty years.
In the last fifty years, there have been three times as many of each Gods and Demons being born than there had been recruited from humans and born combined between both species in the previous thousand years. In the mortal supernatural populations, there have been almost twenty times as many births within the Community. There have been nearly ten times as many instances of Talents being born to families with no known connection to the supernatural community. The last is the biggest issue, since that means there are psychics being born outside the pre-existing support structure and thus they have more chance to take the Electro/Superman route.
In addition, Socrates Group, a segment of the US Navy, has been exploring extra dimensional shards and made contact with communities that have sprung up in those artificial worlds within the last few thousand years. The result is that several of the Purged races, some of whom were presumed extinct, have been making a comeback via the introduction of immigrants coming through Socrates Group.
Socrates Group, Psyche, Yomi and Nirvana don't really talk to each other much at all. Socrates Group believes Psyche to be merely a hiring agency for freelancers, independent Talents, whom they hire to gather inactive gate anchors. Psyche considers Socrates Group to be a rather strange American research group that desires odd artifacts that don't seem to have any immediate power (being inactive, after all). Psyche and Socrates Group are aware of Yomi and Nirvana via legend, but has no contact with them. Yomi and Nirvana are aware of Psyche and somewhat aware of Socrates Group, but aren't really paying much attention to humanity in general.
Psyche and Socrates Group are closer to the situation and are thus aware that the secrecy is going to come to an end one way or another very soon, likely within the lifetimes of most people currently living. Unfortunately, they still don't have all the information to know just how close to being revealed they are.
That said, the efforts of Psyche have resulted in a slightly more favorable situation in much of the free world. First of all, the masquerade was never as thick in areas that were outside of or distant from European domination and many such places have longer histories of being aware of the supernaturals in their midst. Second, belief in psychics and spiritual phenomena is on the raise and there have been many efforts to research such things that have gotten public credibility. Third is the plethora of fiction out there that depicts classical monsters in a positive light. Many governments are aware of psychics, though not how large their population is, and some are even aware of non-humans (though not Gods and Demons anymore).
However, this has also produced some negatives. The North African Alliance, one of the four major powers of the Free World, has used the scientific studies of psychic phenomena to back up their anti-witchcraft laws. Other Middle-Eastern nations and coalitions do likewise, though they are often much more severe in their punishments than the NAA practice of escorting suspected psychics (and sometimes their immediate families) out of the country. This means that there are tens of thousands of Jewish, Christian and Muslim psychics, Gods, Demons, magicians, sorcerers and the like who cannot legally make pilgrimages to either Jerusalem or Mecca. Granted, many of them can easily circumvent the methods to keep them out (especially Gods and Demons), but this is still an issue.
Many of the current public psychics are either total frauds or else believe they have powers while understanding nothing about how psychic ability actually works. Unfortunately, these frauds are in positions of public authority so that they might be able to condemn anything showing up that contradicts their "teachings". Actual trained psychics do not fit the public image of the mystic. A Psyche or Family sorcerer approaches things very practically, scientifically, understanding that there are predictable results to actions. Most of the public frauds, whether they believe their own press or not, paper their efforts about with all sorts of unnecessary symbolic stuff that doesn't really do anything.
Also, there are countries like Brazil, which is dominated by the Thule Society and is quietly trying to become the Fourth Reich. Brazil not only is aware of most of the existence of the supernatural world, sorcery is a major part of their military and intelligence resources. There was a period when it was possible that Brazil would become at least neutral and many parties thought to give up the old hateful rhetoric. Unfortunately, the Nazi ideals held by those that escaped the end of WWII won out over those that just wanted to make a new place for themselves in the world. Brazil is a very human-supremacist State now and the winners of the quiet struggle are preparing to make their power known to the world.
Britain also has a long history with the supernatural which is part of why the British Empire worked so hard to stamp out supernatural communities over which it had no control. It is the homeland of the Breholm family as well as several other factions with hands in the supernatural world, such as the Path of the Golden Dawn. Britain is also marked by the Restoration Society, a group that seeks to return British dominance over the world and is willing to use any means to do so.
Burma likewise has a lot of psychic research programs, especially because of how much influence the Dawn has in that country. Likewise, the former Soviet Union is peppered with psychic research facilities that are now cut off from resources and left to their own devices.
For a long while, the world had never been safer for the supernatural. However, they're now in as much danger as anyone else is in the world.
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