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, 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 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 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.
- Manifests as underground places, caves, dirt, worms and coffins
- Its ritual is called the Sunken Sky.
- Also called Filth, The Crawling Rot.
- Feelings of disgust and 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 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.
- It is said to be one of the oldest of the Entities.
- Its only known attempt at a ritual was called "The Extinguished Sun."
- Also called The Lightless Flame, The Torturing Flame, The Devastation, The Blackened Earth.
- Deals in fear of pain, loss and burning, of unthinking or cruel destruction.
- Followers are enriched by destroying the lives of people who had things to live for, and destroying things before their potential is realised.
- Its 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.
- 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, as Death claims all in the end.
- Also called Beholding or The Ceaseless Watcher.
- 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.
- Often manifests through libraries and books.
- The ritual for the Eye 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 strange bodies being twisted, reshaped, and butchered.
- Thought to be the newest of the 14, born around the time of the Industrial Revolution.
- The Flesh's ritual called The Last Feast.
- The animalistic fear of being chased or hunted, the primal fear of being prey.
- It is less able to affect humans due to our self-removal from the food chain. Self-proclaimed monster hunters might become '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, if it has an end at all.
- Also called Forsaken, The One Alone
- The fear of isolation, of being completely cut off and alone. Fear of being disconnected.
- Manifests as fog, large rooms and crowds of faceless people
- Peter Lukas attempted a ritual, dubbed "The Silence".
- The fear of unpredictable, unmotivated violence, with fear of pain coming at sudden, random moments.
- It manifests in many ways, often tied to imagery of war or murder, and can appear wild 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."
- Also called Es Mentiras, It Is Lies, The Twisting Deceit, It Is Not What It Is.
- It is the fear of madness, that your world is wrong, that your mind is lying to you. It deals with deception, lying, deceiving the mind and senses.
- It appears with imagery of spirals, patterns and fractals, often appearing as hallucinations or illusions.
- The Spiral's ritual is The Great Twisting.
- Also called I Do Not Know You.
- Fear of the unknown, the uncanny, the unfamiliar. The creeping sense that something isn’t right.
- Manifests in human-adjacent forms, such as mannequins and taxidermy.
- Its ritual is The Unknowing.
- Also called The Falling Titan.
- It is the human fear of insignificance and meaninglessness, of losing yourself in too much space. Also deals with fears of heights, falling and large open spaces including deep water and space.
- It often manifests as void, vertigo, and falling.
- Its only known ritual was called The Awful Deep.
- 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, spider webs and web-like patterns.
- According to Peter Lukas it has never attempted a ritual, presumably because it likes the world as it is.
- Also called The Terrible Change, The Future Without Us, The World Is Always Ending
- It is a new entity hypothesized by Adelard Dekker to be currently emerging. It is not yet confirmed to actually exist, if it is yet to be officially born, or if it is a combination of other powers and their overlap. 
- It deals with the fear of catastrophic change, the destruction of humanity and its replacement by something different, especially via mankind's own causing.
- It manifests through man-made elements such as computers, code and radio, and seems to present horrifying visions of what humans could become.
- Most avatars agree that they would like to prevent it from emerging if possible. 
- ↑ MAG 129: Submerged
- ↑ MAG 152: A Gravedigger's Envy
- ↑ MAG 135: Dark Matter
- ↑ MAG 139: Chosen
- ↑ MAG 134: Time of Revelation
- ↑ MAG 168: Roots
- ↑ MAG 111: Family Business
- ↑ MAG 130: Meat
- ↑ MAG 133: Dead Horse
- ↑ MAG 159: The Last
- ↑ MAG 137: Nemesis
- ↑ MAG 101: Another Twist
- ↑ MAG 116: The Show Must Go On
- ↑ MAG 118: The Masquerade
- ↑ MAG 119: Stranger and Stranger
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 MAG 151: Big Picture
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 MAG 134: Time of Revelation