| ATTENTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!!|
This article contains information from later episodes of The Magnus Archives, and may contain major spoilers for the setting and plot. Continue at your own risk.
The Entities are various aspects of an amorphous force of fear that exists next to reality. Their influence upon reality manifests as supernatural happenings - all supernatural phenomena in the world are simply extensions of them. These phenomena can take various forms such as people, animals, monsters, books, objects, or places.
These entities do not simply feed off of our fear, rather they are our fears made manifest. “These things... these forces, they are our fear. Deep fears. Primordial. Always looking for ways to grow and spread.” Not all their actions inspire fear, they are simply a part of the process, a means to an end. It is not only human fear that counts, but that of animals as well, particularly for The Flesh and The Hunt.
- "Imagine, you are an ant, and you have never before seen a human. Then one day, into your colony, a huge fingernail is thrust, scraping and digging. You flee to another entrance, only to be confronted by a staring eye gazing at you. You climb to the top, trying to find escape and, above you, can see the vast dark shadow of a boot falling upon you. Would that ant be able to construct these things into the form of a single human being? Or would it believe itself to be under attack by three different, equally terrible, but very distinct assailants?"
- Jurgen Leitner, MAG 80
Aspects of the Entities can appear as animals, such as the Monster Pig (MAG 103).
Various artefacts can be imbued with an entity's power (such as a table, a coffin, etc). Books are both the most prevalent and the most powerful. According to Jurgen Leitner, books contain a ‘purer‘ essence of the Entities. They appear as regular books, can appear as any language or content, but sometimes with a distinct feel of being special or wrong. They can have a variety of effects, most commonly it causes the reader to meet a gruesome end if read to completion.
People can slip into a form of extra-dimensional space when influenced by a Fear. These spaces do not function under regular logic and the passage of time can also be distorted, e.g. a person might experience something for 72 hours while only 24 hours have passed in the regular world. These spaces can be delineated by a threshold or simply manifest spontaneously around a person. similarly, escape can be achieved by a change in the person’s mental or emotional state or by physically exiting the manifestation. Some examples include:
- The abattoir in MAG 30.
- The coffin in MAG 132.
- The cul-de-sac in MAG 150.
- The amusement park in MAG 156.
Some humans can become attached to an Entity and become empowered by it, gaining supernatural abilities related to their patron, but losing some or all of their humanity in the process. They are referred to as avatars. Most people fall to the powers through love or fear, though it can happen for other reasons such as debt.
Avatars and agents of a power retain their agency but can become physically dependent on it, suffering withdrawal effects, including death, if they go too long without feeding the entity that empowers them.
A death is required for someone to become a fully realised avatar but it can be literal or metaphysical in nature. Fledgling avatars can still have powers but fully realised avatars are significantly more powerful. Eventually, most avatars will become unable to die or be harmed by conventional means, requiring something specific to their nature, or a Hunter, to put them down.
Other aspects of the Entities can be monsters who were not originally human, such as the NotThem, vampires, etc. Sometimes they consist in part of a human, such as The Distortion combined with Michael Shelley to create Michael.
Most entities have their own ‘ritual’, a symbolic act that, if completed, will allow the entity to merge with reality, changing the fabric of the world as it exert its will and nature upon reality. These rituals have the potential to bring other closely-tied entities along with it. It requires centuries for each Entity to build up the power needed for its ritual, and if it is stopped, it cannot try again until it rebuilds that power base. No ritual had ever succeeded, as of MAG 159.
In MAG 160, Jonah Magnus reveals why: The entities are too closely connected to be summoned individually, they cannot be fully separated from each other due to overlap and opposing binaries. For example, the line between the Spiral and the Stranger can be blurred, and a world with only the Buried cannot exist because the Buried needs the contrast of open spaces to exist. A ritual attempting to summon a single entity will inevitably collapse under its own weight. The only way to successfully complete a ritual is to summon every entity at once.
Jonah Magnus devises such a ritual using Jonathan Sims as a linchpin. After being marked by every entity in his role as Archivist, he is made to recite an incantation to "open the door" and summon every entity at once. The reason an Archivist is needed for the ritual is that the Archivist functions as a living archive, not only recording events but embodying them. The power of events that involve the Archivist being marked by each of the Entities is enough to summon them, while also not splitting them up.
Robert Smirke categorized all the disparate entities into 14 main categories. Each Entity is comprised of a variety of smaller terrors, some direct, some abstract, and some tend to bleed over between one Entity and the next. Whilst fears do change and are subject to place, time and culture, it is thought that they have remained fairly stable since the industrial revolution. Each entity also usually has more than one name to reference it/its concept.
These classifications are much like colours, infinite fears that can be grouped into a few categories - each entity can be separated to some degree, but the fears bleed/feed into one another around the edges, and within each entity are different shades of the same hue. This also works to explain why some entities oppose one another, their colours ‘clash’ like red and green or blue and yellow.
- “Like colours, but if colours hated me”
- Jonathan Sims, Head Archivist of The Magnus Institute, London, MAG 111
- Also called The Center, Choke, Too Close I Cannot Breathe.
- The fear of claustrophobia, small spaces, of being unable to breathe and the underground and dust. Being at the centre of everything and it is all pushing down. Fear of being trapped without enough space.
- One name for a Buried ritual is the "Sunken Sky". (MAG 129)
- Jonathan Sims is the only person to have successfully found his way out of the Buried.
- Also called Filth, The Crawling Rot, The Hive
- This entity is linked closely to our feelings of disgust, of feeling revulsion and fear of corruption, disease, filth.
- Manifests as mould, bugs, rot, decay, infection. The feeling of your skin crawling.
- Jon theorises that Jane Prentiss might have attempted to start a ritual in the tunnels by creating a doorway into Corruption. (MAG 152)
- Also called Mr. Pitch, The Forever Blind
- A manifestation of our very primal fear of the dark, of what lies beyond what we can sense. What might be in it?
- One of the oldest of the Entities.
- Its only known attempt at a ritual was called "The Extinguished Sun". (MAG 135)
- Also called The Lightless Flame, The Torturing Flame, The Devastation, Blackened Earth.
- This entity deals in fear of pain, of loss, burning, fear of unthinking or cruel destruction.
- Acolytes are enriched by destroying the lives of people who had things to live for, destroying things before their potential is realized. In exchange, the cult members can create heat--but not fire--and gain the ability to make their skin run like wax.
- Its latest and only known attempt at a ritual was called "The Scoured Earth". (MAG 139)
- Also called Death, Terminus.
- This entity deals in the fear of death itself, uncaring and unstoppable.
- No known attempts at a ritual, presumably because it sees no need to. (MAG 134)
- Also called Beholding, The Watcher, The Ceaseless Watcher, It Knows You.
- This entity is fear of being watched, exposed, followed, of having secrets known, but also the drive to know and understand, even if your discoveries might destroy you. Fear that you’re suffering for the sake of something watching.
- The ritual for the Eye is called "The Watcher's Crown". (MAG 111)
- Also called Viscera
- Born from the fear of animals bred for meat.
- Manifests as strange bodies being twisted, reshaped, and butchered.
- Thought to be the newest of the 14, born around the time of the Industrial Revolution.
- One name for a Flesh ritual is "The Last Feast". (MAG 130)
- Hunting and chase and violence, this is an animalistic fear, very old and primal. Fear of being hunted, being prey.
- Less able to affect people due to our self removal from the food chain. Self-proclaimed (or functional) monster hunters run a strong chance of becoming Hunters and then having a need to hunt and kill monsters.
- The Hunt's ritual is called "The Everchase". Daisy suggests that the Hunt is too caught up in the chase to ever reach the end of its ritual. (MAG 133)
- Also called Forsaken, The One Alone
- The fear of isolation, of being completely cut off and alone. Fear of being disconnected.
- Avatar of the Lonely Peter Lukas attempted a ritual, dubbed "The Silence." It was prevented by Gertrude Robinson. (MAG 159)
- This entity feeds off of pure, unpredictable, unmotivated violence. Strong ties to war. Fear of not knowing, where, how, when or if pain will come but that it will. Can be violent like a frenzied killer or calm and regimented like soldiers firing on the battlefield.
- Its only known attempt at a ritual was called "The Risen War". (MAG 137)
- Also called Esmentiaras, the Twisting Deceit, It Is Not What It Is.
- This entity is fear of madness, that your world isn’t right, that your mind is lying to you. It deals with deception, lying, deceiving the mind and senses.
- The Spiral's latest and only known attempt at a ritual was called "The Great Twisting". (MAG 101)
- Also called I Do Not Know You.
- Fear of the unknown. That creeping sense that something isn’t right.
- Manifests as objects pretending to be humans, like mannequins and taxidermied people.
- Its latest attempt at a ritual was called "The Unknowing". (MAG 116, MAG 118, MAG 119)
- Also called The Falling Titan.
- This entity deals in our fear of our own insignificance in this universe. Losing yourself in too much space.
- Its effects involve void, vertigo, and falling, but also anything to do with openness and open spaces, fears like Agoraphobia, fear of deep water.
- Its only known attempt at a ritual was called "The Awful Deep". (MAG 151)
- Also called The Spider, Mother of Puppets.
- Deals with fear of being controlled, entrapped, being trapped and not knowing it, and your will not being your own, of being manipulated.
- Manifests as spiders and spider webs and patterns like spider webs.
- No known attempts at a ritual, possibly because it likes the world as-is. (MAG 134)
- Also called The Terrible Change, The Future Without Us, The World Is Always Ending
- The 15th Entity hypothesized by Adelard Dekker to be currently emerging.
- It deals with the fear of catastrophic change, the destruction of humanity and its replacement by something different, especially via mankind's own causing.
- Man-made elements are one of its hallmarks.
- Avatars of other Entities would like to try and stop it emerging if possible.