Various concepts and ideas regarding how things work in The Nameless.
Rather than a continually expanding space that is slowly tearing itself apart, the universe of The Nameless is finite & stable. While entropy exists, it is balanced for in such a way where the tendency towards disorder will not result in eventual heat death/final equilibrium. This is the reason magic can be performed - it is the result of the balancing force to entropy (sometimes magic itself is referred to as this force). Because this happens in a cycle, the universe does not avoid disorder, allowing for change and variety, but is not torn apart by it. Magic is a force that derives order from chaos. (regardless of how superficially 'chaotic' magic may seem - order is a relative term)
The universe is divided into many different planes of existence. Some of these planes are purely energetic, siphoning off wasted energy lost by systems. This energy is what is then used for magic.
Disorder -> Order = Entropy -> Magic
Order -> Disorder = Magic -> Entropy
How Magic Functions
Magic relies upon manipulating entropic currents. Magic is the opposite of entropy, and energy "lost" by a system exists as potential energy for a magical reaction. "Magic", as a term, encompasses a very broad range of disciplines, not unlike "engineering". It is exceedingly complex to understand and perform. It comes to no one naturally (at least, not humans) and requires time and effort to learn. Knowing how to light a flame using magic is akin to knowing how to build a gas stove from scratch - knowing all the materials necessary, how they must be manipulated and assembled, etc. While the colloquial understanding of magic is one that reduces it to "snap your fingers, say some words, and it'll happen", magic in its true nature is more similar to the building of complex mundane machinery and feats of engineering. Spells and rituals are often described in terms of their "programming" and "circuitry". They may also be compared to organic structures, such as nervous and circulatory systems.
Radioactivity and Physiological Effects of Magic
All forms of magic, but particularly alchemy (transmution of matter) are radioactive. Practicing magic without proper training or PPE will result in deleterious effects on the body and mind. Legends about "crazed" witches and "unhinged" wizards are likely informed by examples of the cognitive damage caused by magic. In addition, some forms of magic may be associated with specific physical effects on the user, such as bleaching, increased pigmentation, mutation or cancer. Magic "focuses" such as staves, wands, etc. are often used to offset and contain radioactivity. Skilled and frequent users of magic often have trouble concieving children, leading to them instead taking apprentices.
Reach Kings and The Reach’s Substructure
The Reach's substructure has an effect on those that become truly integrated into it, in that it erodes the self, like water against stone. The Reach's nervous system is in a way its own afterlife, all things connected to it leaving imprints that mingle and echo before truly fading. They aren't conscious minds, just a slurry of mindless feelings and thoughts. This effect is noticeable on those that connect to it, and the erosion of self can be terrifying to those who are not prepared to lose themselves. Those that would call themselves Reach Kings, even those that thought of themselves as "benevolent", are gradually driven insane by the shifting landscape of their mind and self-perception. In a sense, they have empathy forced upon them and violently reject it, because it's not what they expected or wanted to find in a position they misconstrued as a seat of power. In retaliation, they become exponentially more egotistical, megalomaniacal, desperate and vicious, before their erratic behavior contributes to their usurpation.
These bonded creatures cannot be truly killed, for they are a part of the dimension itself, their previous body a vestigial limb. The only method known to depose a Reach King is for one to wrest control of the Reach's nervous system for themselves through force of will. It is possible for more than one person to be connected to the Reach's deeper structures, but the sort of person willing and able to achieve this connection is someone with enough power already to be completely corrupt, and unwilling to concede or share access to the Reach's network. In addition, the mind and sense of self of those connected would begin to overlap, as they would be "sharing" a brain.
Who’s in the Reach
…before the Cascade seals it off. All nonnative creatures have become naturalized to the Reach over many generations at this point.
- Naturalized humans, elves, etc
- Naturalized goblins, abused by RKs as pawns of war
- Other creatures that have been manipulated in similar ways.
- A variety of nonnative species that have become naturalized.
- Undead thralls and soldiers.
- Kinworms, massive sapient polychaete worms. The longest lived creatures in the Reach, and often sought out by RKs as reluctant advisors.
- Life forms that have become extinct in their own dimensions, but whose descendants live on in the Reach where they were introduced.
- A variety of “life” unique to the Reach - mainly things like fungi and strange organic forms that are difficult to distinguish as life as we know it.
- A variety of strange and unsettling forms caused by the symbiosis of native and nonnative Reach life. The Reach’s strange brand of “immortality” has disturbing effects on foreign organisms subsumed into its network.
- Notably, no demons - the Reach’s substructure impairs demonic rituals, making them impossible to complete within its borders. In addition, this effect extends to living demons, making them feel uneasy and sick in the Reach. This is an effect of the Reach trying to get its tendrils into them and failing to find purchase due to their unique biology, which is itself tied to unique biologies of Hell. Demons can be created from Reach-affected creatures, but are very unlikely to be viable. Examples of such demons are The Lady of Mercy and DG.