All for One: Magic most Foul~

The inclusion of magic in its myriad period forms in All for One, expands the possibilities for the setting immensely, and will do much for adding elements of investigation, demonstration of guilt, and debate about intentions and the very nature of human understanding of the organization of the universe. Even in the Three Musketeers, a book seemingly devoid of intellectual pursuits, we are given more than anecdotal evidence that, for all of their impetus to action, more than one of the main characters was given to periods of doubt and introspection. The inclusion of magic, and the societal ramifications of its use or discovery should give even the most headstrong and action-oriented character, pause to stop and think… even if it’s just about how great it will be to watch a convicted practitioner of the black arts receive punishment for their crimes. Moreover, this inclusion opens up a broader scope of influence for characters active in the setting; influence which may be imagined to stretch forth from their sick and dying era unto our very own.

But very often men and beasts and storehouses are struck by lightning by the power of devils; and the cause of this seems to be more hidden and ambiguous, since it often appears to happen by Divine permission without the co-operation of any witch. However, it has been found that witches have freely confessed that they have done such things, and there are various instances of it, which could be mentioned, in addition to what has already been said. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that, just as easily as they raise hailstorms, so can they cause lightning and storms at sea; and so no doubt at all remains on these points.

Malleus Malleficarum (1487~)

Heinrich Kramer, James Sprenger

Most of the period references to occultism, and famed characters and creatures of a mystical bent with which I am familiar stem from either more than a century before, or almost a century after the point where All for One begins, but most of Europe was most definitely concerned about witches, and the influence of Satan and his minions on the Earth within the immediate time-frame of the game’s fictionalized setting. In point of fact, within a mere seven years of the setting’s starting point of 1636, the actual France would experience the most extensive period of investigation and subsequent prosecution of occult practitioners in its history, past or present. While history, sensationalism, and the shifting tides of scholarship have left us an entirely unclear picture of the numbers of trials, tortures, and executions, what we can safely say is that over a 250 year period across Europe, people were accused, tried, and if found guilty, punished or executed for the crime of witchcraft by civil and religious courts – Catholic and Protestant alike. In addition, we can assert that each nation involved experienced periods wherein public fears of witchcraft reached such heights that hundreds were arrested in short periods of time. Once the use of torture was condoned as a means to extract information, the rate of confessions, and the delivery of testimony leading to subsequent arrests of associates as alleged offenders naturally increased due to the effects of the application of those methods.  If such events could take place in the real world, imagine what a world wherein magic actually works might be like.

If he must die he would die in his tracks, his wounds in front.

Skulls in the Stars
The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane
Robert E. Howard

While characters like Cagliostro, and creatures like the Beast of Gevaudan would not roam the nights of the real world until the next century, they are hardly the only examples of their ilk, and the opportunities for inserting mysterious antagonists of a dark or incomprehensible nature are plentiful. Adding further fuel to the fire… forgive the allusion… are those we see today as scientific pioneers, but who were, to the eyes of their fellows, dabbling with mysteries man was not meant to comprehend. Within two decades of the time of characters beginning play in All for One: Regime Diabolique, the rise of chemistry from the pursuit of alchemy which came before will begin. Alchemical pursuits both practical and wholly allegorical were commonplace among learned men in these times in the real world, imagine again how different the world could be were their studies capable of bearing more demonstrable proof.

For if abstract hate may bring into material substance a ghostly thing, may not courage, equally abstract, form a concrete weapon to combat that ghost?

Skulls in the Stars
The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane
Robert E. Howard

The great discoveries, the great transmutations of one tradition into the next, and the great people who inspired successive generations to reinvent the world and the universe in which it resides, are all within easy reach of the characters available in this setting. Either by righting wrongs at sword point, or by penning a treatise of such wisdom (gained at great personal peril and no small amount of dueling, verbal, physical, mystical, and spiritual) that comes to inspire the great minds of the next generation, the characters of this game will have an effect of truly magical proportions upon a world about to be born.

For an interesting take on that kind of world-to-come, half-way between the real and the imaginary, one would not go wrong to look at the Historical Illuminatus Chronicles by Robert Anton Wilson. Set slightly more than 1 century later than the game, it provides good insight into what kinds of attitudes, practices, secret societies, and levels of technology are yet to come.  More than this, it demonstrates a method of storytelling which allows for the existence of magic and the existence of science, as well as an uneasy marriage between the two, with the revisionist power of the human mind over all. I think this shall prove very useful in helping GMs come up with methods of description, story seeds, and insight into the awe in which our ancestors held the occult arts.

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