The Entities are various aspects of an amorphous force of fear that exists next to reality. They are variously also referred to as gods, powers or simply as the Fears. 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, all with the goal of evoking fear, terror and paranoia from all who encounter them.
"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
These entities do not simply feed off of our fear, but are our fears made manifest. It is not only human fear that counts, but that of animals as well, particularly for The Flesh and The Hunt. The more fearful the world is of a certain thing, the more powerful the related entity becomes, becoming empowered by the increased fear of its realm of influence.
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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.
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, in a variety of languages and each with unique contents, but sometimes with a distinct feel of being special or wrong. They can have a variety of effects, most commonly causing 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 old part of town in MAG 48.
- 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 but possess human qualities, 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. Sometimes they are completely inhuman monsters, like The Still And Lightless Beast and The Lichtenberg Figure.
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 categorised 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, though an entity's power rises and falls with the world's fear of their domain. Each entity has a variety of names, though Smirke's names are generally the most commonly used.
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 orange.
- “Like colours, but if colours hated me”
- Jonathan Sims, Head Archivist of The Magnus Institute, London, MAG 111
- Also called The Centre, Choke, Too Close I Cannot Breathe, Forever Deep Below Creation.
- The fear of small spaces, suffocating, drowning, being buried alive. Fear of everything crashing down around/on oneself. Fear of being trapped without enough space.
- Manifests as caves, dirt, financial issues, underground transport, tight spaces such as coffins.
- Artefacts associated with The Buried: The Coffin, The Box, DIG, Seven Lamps of Architecture
- Known avatars and servants of The Buried: "The Governor”, Enrique MacMillian, Hezekiah Wakely
- The Buried's ritual is called the Sunken Sky.
- Also called Filth, The Crawling Rot.
- The fear of corruption, disease, filth. Fear of the feelings of disgust and revulsion and thing/beings that might evoke such feelings.
- Manifests as mould, bugs, rot, decay, infection, the feeling of one's skin crawling. Can also manifest as unhealthy love and companionship.
- Artefacts associated with The Corruption: A Journal of the Plague Year, The Tale of a Field Hospital, a plague-infected scalpel which cannot be disinfected
- Known avatars and servants of The Corruption: Jane Prentiss, John Amherst, Timothy Hodge
- John theorises that Jane Prentiss might have attempted to start a ritual in the tunnels by creating a doorway into The Corruption.
- Also called Mr. Pitch, The Forever Blind.
- The primal fear of the dark, of what lies beyond that we cannot see, and the creatures hiding from our view.
- The Dark is said to be one of the oldest Entities.
- Manifests as creatures hidden in the dark, shadow figures & monsters, blindness, coldness, dark water.
- Artefacts associated with The Dark: The Dark Star
- Known avatars and servants of The Dark: The People's Church of the Divine Host (Manuela Dominguez, Maxwell Rayner, Robert Montauk, Vardaan Darvish, Natalie Ennis), Callum Brodie
- The Dark's only known attempt at a ritual was called "The Extinguished Sun."
- Also called The Lightless Flame, The Torturing Flame, The Devastation, The Blackened Earth, Asag.
- The fear of pain, loss, burning, and destruction, especially with a senseless cause.
- Followers are enriched by destroying the lives of people who had things to live for, and destroying things before their potential is realised.
- Manifests as fire, wax, heat, burns, destruction of potential.
- Artefacts associated with The Desolation: “small book bound in red”
- Known avatars and servants of The Desolation: The Cult of the Lightless Flame (Agnes Montague, Arthur Nolan, Diego Molina, Eileen Montague, Eugene Vanderstock, Jude Perry)
- The Desolation's latest and only known attempt at a ritual was called "The Scoured Earth."
- Also called Death, Terminus, The Coming End That Waits For All And Cannot Be Ignored.
- The fear of death itself—uncaring and unstoppable.
- Manifests as bones, various forms of the dead (skeletons, mummies, zombies, etc.). Also has close ties to dreams and can manifest through them.
- Artefacts associated with The End: Book of the Dead, Catalogue of the Trapped Dead, Death's Game Pieces
- Known avatars and servants of The End: Justin Gough, Nathaniel Thorp, Oliver Banks, Tova McHugh
- The End has no known attempts at a ritual, presumably because it sees no need to, as Death claims all in the end.
- Also called Beholding, The Ceaseless Watcher, It Knows You.
- The fear of being watched, exposed, followed, having secrets exposed. Can also pertain to the drive to know and understand, even if your discoveries might destroy you.
- Manifests as eyes, security cameras, a creature or figure that keeps constant watch. Often manifests in libraries and books.
- Artefacts associated with The Eye: a hand mirror that places anyone who looks into it under a constant watch from a creature that can only be seen behind one's shoulder in the mirror, an instruction manual for a security camera that causes its reader to become part of the security system.
- Known avatars and servants of The Eye: Magnus Institute Archivists (Angus Stacey, Gertrude Robinson, Jonathan Sims), Jonah Magnus (Richard Mendelson, James Wright, Elias Bouchard), archival assistants (Alice "Daisy" Tonner, Basira Hussain, Emma Harvey, Eric Delano, Fiona Law, Martin Blackwood, Melanie King, Sasha James, Timothy Stoker), Gerard Keay, Mary Keay
- The Eye's ritual is called The Watcher's Crown.
- Also called Viscera.
- Born from the fear of animals bred for meat, and in the human realisation that we are just animated meat and bones.
- Manifests as meat, corpses, blood, bones, butchers, meat-related industry. Often manifests as strange bodies—bodies being unnaturally twisted, reshaped, and butchered.
- Thought to be the newest of the 14, born around the time of the Industrial Revolution.
- Artefacts associated with The Flesh: The Boneturner's Tale, the Meat Grinder, The Stalwart Hunters' Almanac (suspected)
- Known avatars and servants of The Flesh: Angela, Eustace Wick, John Haan, Toby Carlisle, Tom Haan, Jared Hopworth
- The Flesh's ritual is called The Last Feast.
- The animalistic fear of being chased or hunted; the primal fear of being prey.
- Manifests as predators, predatory monsters, animal instincts, animalistic traits.
- Takes hold of apparently "normal" people after they are exposed to the need for The Hunt. Self-proclaimed monster hunters might become 'Hunters' and proceed to develop a need to hunt and kill monsters.
- It is less able to affect humans due to our self-removal from the food chain.
- Artefacts associated with The Hunt: The Stalwart Hunters' Almanac (suspected)
- Known avatars and servants of The Hunt: Alice "Daisy" Tonner, Julia Montauk, Robert Montauk, Trevor Herbert
- 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, if it has an end at all.
- Also called Forsaken, The One Alone.
- The fear of isolation, of being completely cut off and alone or disconnected from the rest of society.
- Manifests as fog, large rooms, silence, crowds of faceless people.
- Artefacts associated with The Lonely: A Disappearance (suspected)
- Known avatars and servants of The Lonely: The Lukas Family (Peter Lukas, Mordechai Lukas, Conrad Lukas, Evan Lukas) Martin Blackwood
- Peter Lukas attempted a ritual for The Lonely dubbed "The Silence."
- The fear of unpredictable, unmotivated violence. The fear of pain coming at sudden, random moments.
- Manifests as people driven "mad with Slaughter," soldiers, music that either induces Slaughter or warns that Slaughter is coming. Often manifests in imagery of war or murder, and can appear wild like a frenzied killer or calm and regimented like soldiers firing on the battlefield.
- Artefacts associated with The Slaughter: a knife that drives its holder to kill anyone in sight before turning it upon themselves, a rusted train car which perpetually smells of blood and which houses the spirit of a WWII medic driven mad by Slaughter, "slaughter book" (a paperback capable of driving an entire village to slaughter each other by any means necessary)
- Known avatars and servants of The Slaughter: Alfred Grifter, Amritsar Ghosts, Melanie King, The Deserter, "The Piper"
- The Slaughter's only known attempt at a ritual was called "The Risen War."
- Also called Es Mentiras (It Is Lies), The Twisting Deceit, It Is Not What It Is.
- The fear of madness, that the world you know is wrong, that your mind is lying to you. Fear of deception, lying, deceiving of the mind and senses.
- The Spiral appears with imagery of spirals, patterns and fractals, and often manifests as hallucinations or illusions.
- Artefacts associated with The Spiral: The Fractal Pot, The Pattern Rug
- Known avatars and servants of The Spiral: Gabriel, The Distortion (Michael and Helen), The Man Who Wasn't There
- The Spiral's ritual is The Great Twisting.
- Also called I Do Not Know You.
- The fear of the unknown, the uncanny, the unfamiliar. The creeping sense that something isn’t right.
- Manifests as beings and aspects of beings that provoke an "uncanny valley" response: human and other being-adjacent forms, such as mannequins, wax figures, masks, and taxidermy. Often manifests in theatres and performances.
- Artefacts associated with The Stranger: The Calliope, Gorilla Skin
- Known avatars and servants of The Stranger: The Anglerfish, Breekon & Hope, Daniel Rawlings, Gregor Orsinov, Nikola Orsinov, NotThem, Sarah Baldwin, Wolfgang von Kempelen, Anatomy Students
- The Stranger's ritual is The Unknowing.
- Also called The Falling Titan.
- The fear of heights, falling, and large open spaces including sky, space, and deep water. More broadly: the human fear of insignificance and meaninglessness, of losing oneself in too much space.
- Manifests as void, wide open spaces, vertigo, falling, the transformation of something that should have a limit into something infinite.
- Artefacts associated with The Vast: Ex Altiora
- Known avatars and servants of The Vast: Michael "Mike" Crew, The Fairchilds (Simon Fairchild, Harriet Fairchild)
- The Vast's only known ritual was called "The Awful Deep."
- Also called The Spider, Mother of Puppets/The Mother.
- The fear of being controlled or trapped, especially being unaware of one's own entrapment. The fear of being forced to do things against one's own will, of being manipulated.
- Manifests as spiders, spider webs, web-like patterns, puppets.
- Artefacts associated with The Web: The Web Table, A Guest for Mr. Spider, 蜘蛛が食べている (kumo ga tabete iru)
- Known avatars and servants of The Web: Annabelle Cane, Emma Harvey, Neil Lagorio, Raymond Fielding
- According to Peter Lukas, The Web has never attempted a ritual, presumably because it likes or accepts the world as it is.
- Also called The Terrible Change, The Future Without Us, The World Is Always Ending.
- A new entity hypothesized by Adelard Dekker to be currently emerging. As of MAG 175, it is confirmed to exist, although whether it is on the same level as the other Entities or the existential threat Dekker feared remains unclear.
- The fear of catastrophic change, destruction of nature, destruction of human skin and tissue, the destruction of humanity itself and its replacement by something different; all of this especially via mankind's own causing.
- Manifests through human technology such as computers, code, and radio, and seems to present horrifying visions of what humans could become, or what could become of humans.
- Most avatars agree that they would like to prevent The Extinction from emerging if possible.
- ↑ MAG 66: Held in Customs
- ↑ MAG 88: Dig
- ↑ MAG 129: Submerged
- ↑ MAG 51: High Pressure
- ↑ MAG 152: A Gravedigger's Envy
- ↑ MAG 160: The Eye Opens
- ↑ MAG 135: Dark Matter
- ↑ MAG 12: First Aid
- ↑ MAG 43: Section 31
- ↑ MAG 139: Chosen
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 MAG 60: Observer Effect
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 MAG 134: Time of Revelation
- ↑ MAG 168: Roots
- ↑ MAG 148: Extended Surveillance
- ↑ MAG 111: Family Business
- ↑ MAG 115: Taking Stock
- ↑ MAG 130: Meat
- ↑ MAG 133: Dead Horse
- ↑ MAG 159: The Last
- ↑ MAG 128: Heavy Goods
- ↑ MAG 76: The Smell of Blood
- ↑ MAG 125: Civilian Casualties
- ↑ MAG 137: Nemesis
- ↑ MAG 38: Lost and Found
- ↑ MAG 141: Doomed Voyage
- ↑ MAG 101: Another Twist
- ↑ Wikipedia: Uncanny valley
- ↑ MAG 116: The Show Must Go On
- ↑ MAG 118: The Masquerade
- ↑ MAG 119: Stranger and Stranger
- ↑ 31.0 31.1 MAG 151: Big Picture
- ↑ MAG 110: Creature Feature