The Attuned and the Red Sigil:
Even in the 25th century, old-fashioned witch and wizard outfits remain popular among mages.
By far the largest of these is the Attuned, a general-purpose faction that welcomes all citizens who are mages, or who wish to learn magic. As a result, the Attuned are a diverse group, with many low-level practitioners who know a few spells and have some capabilities, but are not yet individually powerful. While membership is not required, most mages join for access to the Attuned organization’s research archives, lucrative trade contacts for magical items, and extensive mentorship and jobs programs. Since magic is primarily a learned set of skills, the Attuned are notable for their extreme emphasis on hard work and constant practice to the exclusion of everything else, with a great deal of respect and authority given to those who have “earned it” through years or decades of toil. Most, though not all, mages become reclusive and antisocial over time to meet the organization’s expectations.
The Attuned have such a powerful influence on magical learning and practices aboard the ship that it is common to refer to all mages and magical items as Attuned – the theory goes that mages have to work hard to attune themselves to the magic inherent in the universe, while magical items are attuned enough that anyone can use a little magic through them… until they break from the stress of such use. Magical items are a major export of the Justice, and the demand for them is so high that the more experienced mages in the Attuned have access to immense wealth just from being able to make and sell more of them. It is entirely possible that the Attuned could pool enough money to buy their own, smaller ship, if they really wanted to – but the vast majority are happier living on the Justice instead, and the small minority who truly want to leave often do so.
Hidden within the ranks of the Attuned is a shadowy cult known as the Red Sigil. Its leaders seek to replace the leadership of both the Attuned faction and the Justice as a whole, using the justification that mages are natural rulers, and that most of the ship’s budget should be spent on training and equipping more of them. The Red Sigil’s plan is for the most powerful mages to replace superheroes as the first line of defense against all other threats, and also as the leadership cadre of the Justice. While their methods are undeniably evil, attacking innocents and treating their low-ranking members as expendable cannon fodder, Red Sigil members see themselves as good guys who are making the hard choices that heroes like Ambassador won’t.
The Red Sigil’s Emblem.
The name Red Sigil refers to the number 2 written in blood or red ink. This symbolizes the organization’s belief that mages should never be second to anyone, and the fact that they are second in the ship’s governance structure is worth spilling blood over. Red Sigil mages are also rumored to trade extensively with criminal smugglers, illegally selling dangerous and shoddily-produced magic items to planets the ship visits without regard for the consequences – expect more on that when we discuss interstellar economics and smugglers.
The Attuned hate Prometheans. Mercenaries just want to get paid.
The Attuned have a close and friendly relationship with the Mercenary Council; mercenaries are willing to do tedious and unpleasant work for money, while many mages have the egos and the money to hire mercs for tasks ranging from acquiring components, to acting as bodyguards or even a mage’s private army, to directly attacking the mage’s enemies. Both groups accept that mages will use mercenaries as expendable muscle, and that they will simply pay a higher price the more mercenaries are killed in the process. In turn, mercenary groups sometimes recruit fledgling mages who are not yet powerful enough to produce magic items, and those recruits are treated well; the ones who live are likely to become future clients, after all.
“I get a bonus for this, right?”
The mages of the Attuned hate the Prometheans above all others, and this antagonism is reciprocated. The Attuned fundamentally like the ship as it is. Even the Red Sigil only want to seize control of the ship’s political system and revenues; they would be happy to have super-powered subordinates if they could effect a coup. The Prometheans want to wipe out the supers, restrict magic to a single type, forcibly convert all mages to cyborgs, and imprint the insane views and dangerous powers of Dr. Cornish onto all of the Attuned – and when Dr. Cornish complains about abusive, egotistical heroes, he often cites famous mages as examples. Philosophically, the Attuned are all about hard work and respect for a meritocratic elite, while the Prometheans are all about reckless innovation and a deceptive brand of populism. The Attuned and the Prometheans are a rare example of factions so hostile that they will continue fighting each other even in life-threatening situations like Nagdellian invasions; in fact, each group will try to help the invaders in killing the other, when they get a chance.
The images in this newsletter illustrate the relationship between the Attuned and the mercenaries they hire. The female mercenary is from the Yekus Mercenary Clan, and this is the first time we show her in-game with her 3D costume, which is based on the concept art we showed in our newsletter from September 30th.
The still images and the gif were all taken in-game. The images are posed, for dramatic effect, and the gif is an in-game recording of the power Breath of Darkness being used against a Promethean.
The Red Sigil is a secretive group of mages operating within the ranks of the Attuned. As such, almost any magic user could be a member, so we have illustrated this concept with a previously shown, but still unnamed Mage. Is she Attuned or is she Red Sigil? We’re not saying yet.
The location in which the battle takes place is in the Science Park area, in the southwestern part of Apotheosis City.
In SoH, the bad guys don’t just react to the heroes, they react to each other. It’s a real, immersive, and engaging story. The enemy groups in SoH are all unique; there are no zombies or Nazis here. They look very different, they have different – and competing – goals, and they have different methods of achieving their goals. Their motives are different, and their powers are different. We’re constantly making small changes and additions to these factions to expand and improve the lore of SoH; we’ve defined four already, and you can expect more enemy groups in the future.
By the 23rd century, humans had burst out of their home system and were colonizing and exploring. The galaxy was a busy place – many species, many worlds, many technologies – and the incredible and inexplicable became almost routine. One thing that surprised no one was that we had entered a galaxy with hundreds, perhaps thousands of organizations that would, under various circumstances, act as military muscle for hire; mercenaries were everywhere. It did not take even one generation before human mercenary groups joined the fray, and human and mixed human/alien mercenary groups now regularly compete for contracts.
When the first generation ships left Earth, each had a very small population of super-powered heroes aboard, mixed with a much larger population of typical humans. As the ships traveled, the fraction of supers aboard each ship increased, due to exposure to the Unobtanium engines.