The world of Bloodlines Earth is very much like our own. They share the same cultures, the same cities, the same public history, and even the same entertainments. The difference is in the subtle details and what truths have been hidden from mortals by the Inquisition. Bloodlines earth is our world shaped by the supernatural over millennia and schemes both monstrous and divine.
Characters have at least a small trace of one of the supernatural bloodlines in their lineage which allows them to witness magic and enchantment for what it really is. They have begun their journey to discover how far they are willing to change to become their most Platonic selves. This is not always the joy that everyone expects.
Bloodlines Earth is a modern urban fantasy setting intended to be used with any role-playing game system. Strong themes of humanity’s choice in embracing our humanity or something far stranger are prevalent. Most of this series of blog posts will be system agnostic, but I will be including stats and crunchy bits for several game systems.
Our World, with a strange reflection
The folklore of our world is the kernel of truth on Bloodlines Earth. While much folklore has been garbled and misunderstood by humanity, the essence of the tales show a glimpse into the reality of the supernatural and the various bloodlines that populate the earth. One of the largest breaches of Inquisition security revolves around the Brothers Grimm and the printing of their book of “tales”.
The world has been shaped by creatures of legend for centuries. During the dark ages, the most powerful factions came together to form the Covenant. The Covenant is a mutual non-aggression treaty that helps protect and control the various supernatural entities of the world. It is held together by the Inquisition, an organization created to maintain the peace, suppress human knowledge of the supernatural, and observe the tenets of their Covenant. Those who break the Covenant suffer penalties that can include binding of their powers, exile to the Hidden, and even death.
Those with supernatural bloodlines can be found all over the globe. Every culture, every nation, and every race has tales of magical and horrifying creatures that reflect the myriad bloodlines that exist. While they once stayed close to their ancestral homes, now with globalization these bloodlines have spread far and wide. The United States is a melting pot of both mortal and supernatural heritage, and many younger bloodlines eschew the traditions of their forefathers.
Some bloodlines prefer distant lonely haunts of the wilderness, while others love to lose themselves in the throngs of the larger cities and metropolises of the world. New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and many other cities are fantastic hunting grounds for supernatural predators as they hide in plain sight in front of mortals. Many take great pride in tricking the mortal authorities, making them believe that a death was natural causes or common criminals instead of the truth. In many ways they fear the Inquisition far more than any police detective.
Other, often less hungry, bloodlines lead government agencies, corporations, and live normal lives. They take their children to school, they bitch about politics, and they pay taxes. They live according to their own beliefs, desires, goals, and preferences – many of which have little to do with their supernatural heritage. Bloodlines tend to build communities to share concerns and for mutual protection, but they remain secretive to protect themselves from the inquisition there are few vast conspiracies.
The Reflection is a glimmer of the bloodline form or soul of a supernatural character and is a representation of the supernatural bloodline and powers of the character. The more character points spent on powers, the stronger, vibrant, and more obvious the character’s reflection. The reflection is usually never seen by others in the mundane world, hidden under the skin and often only manifesting when powers are needed. Fleeting glimpses can also be occasionally seen in mirrors and reflective surfaces.
This changes once the character steps into the Hidden. Portions of the Hidden closest to the real world often will only show portions or glimpses of a character’s reflection. The deeper into the Hidden the character travels, the more the reflection will manifest. Pure-bloods and those with a higher Power Scale will often be obvious very shortly after entering the Hidden.
Items may also have a reflection. Unlike sentient creatures, items with supernatural gifts or properties will often be plain to see for what they are to any person with a supernatural bloodline. Items that house the soul or spirit of a creature may resist or be displayed as the imbued spirit desires.
The Hidden & Beyond
The Hidden is a set of realms and paths between realms that interconnect the normal world with other, far stranger, ones. The Hidden is nestled between the cracks of the normal world and can lead the explorer to far away realms. A Hidden shop, glade, or even a unique section of train tracks can all be part of the Hidden. Some areas of the Hidden have paths that can lead to other areas, while some are standalone. Intrepid explorers should be wary about traveling too far into the Hidden, possibly finding themselves in a far-flung realm with no way to return home.
Every location and path that leads to the Hidden has a difficulty penalty that applies to human and the bloodlines alike. The deeper and more obscure the destination in the Hidden, the more difficult the path. Once a path is known and has been traveled it will usually been seen by the travelers and have no further penalty. Paths that wander will continue to have a penalty, but will be reduced by one rating. Humans will always suffer an additional difficulty penalty to see paths.
Earth >>> Shallow Hidden >>> Deep Hidden >>> Spiritual Realms
The Hidden is the home of all incorporeal spirits and shelters them from the world that we know. Spirits will become seemingly more corporeal the further into the Hidden they travel. Less powerful spirits have an easier time traveling to our world and interacting with its inhabitants. They retain most of their spiritual essence and can use it to manipulate the world.
More powerful spirits find travel here far more difficult and will become more and more inconsequential when they do arrive. They tend to live in the Deep Hidden and they suffer a shift in power scale downwards with every step from their homes. Sorcerers and ritualists have found ways of creating pentagrams and magic circles that shield the spirits and return their power to them. The best of circles prevents the spirit from harming or traps them within the protective area.
Beyond the Hidden lies an infinite number of other realms, built upon the desires, fears, and fantasies of mortal man. There is a great deal of debate amongst the enlightened as to whether the spiritual realms were created by the thoughts of mankind or if the thoughts of mankind were influenced by the realities beyond. There seems to be no final answer in this debate of philosophy.
Every realm of myth and legend can be found within the spiritual realms: Heaven, Hell, the Summerlands, Atlantis, Asgard, Nibiru, Shangri-la, and many that were never named by man. These are the realms of spirits, and spirits will have substance and sometimes great power within these realms.
The Eternal City is a realm that can easily be reached through the Hidden. It is the reflection of the heart of many cities, and a tangible manifestation for our love/hate relationships with them. The city itself is simply called “the City” by its residents, and can be a very dangerous place to live. It holds a strange fascination for many and draws people to it like a moth to a flame.
Predators lurk everywhere from dimly lit alley shadows to the brightly lit boardrooms of the city. The Unbroken Council has their headquarters in the Eternal City for a reason. Many hungry spirits and supernatural predators are drawn to the city with its bright lights and many lonely souls.
Americans have long dreamed of winding adventures through the great unknown be it the Oregon Trail, Route 66, or the modern television ideal of space exploration. This desire can be found in a nearly pure form on the Long Road. It has had many appearances since it was first discovered, but currently looks like a deserted two lane road winding through a lonely and desolate series of road stops, small towns, and wasteland.
The Long Road begins at the Eternal City and based on the patterns of the sun heads west into an ever-increasing wilderness. Former travelers have made small towns along the way, although they thin out and become much more sparse the further one explores. Eventually the road just leads to undiscovered natural wonders, untouched wilderness, and stranger lands of the Hidden. No one knows where the Long Road ends, or if it even does. Several expeditions of adventurers have gone to search the ends of the road and never returned.
The Slumber is a spiritual realm where all of the dreamers of the world find themselves when they sleep or daydream. It is a realm of creativity incarnate, but the subconscious fears and desires of mankind also spill into the realm. Many of the denizens of the slumber are quite protective of humanity and their charges as they dream their world into existence, but nightmares and spiritual predators still lurk around the edges of the night.
Author Notes: Systems that I know will have further posts dedicated to character creation, equipment, new powers, and other crunchy details. I am likely to detail these with FATE, Genesys, and Alpha Chronicles, but I am happy to create appropriate posts for other systems if readers request them. I am hoping that this setting inspires others to help detail the far-flung reaches of the Hidden.
This setting is a revamp and continuation from the Darkened Reflections setting. Some readers may remember portions of it from a previous post that I have since deleted. Several of the themes of the setting have been altered, and much of the world has been significantly expanded.