Tall Tales Lexicon
Terms commonly used on this site, and what they mean.
A physical human, born into the bloodline of a metaphysical being, that functions to ground the physical realm against incursion by the metaphysical. All Anchors are innately immune to magic, possession, and mind control, and many have the ability to counteract magic at a distance through force of will. Anchors have a natural knack for performing exorcisms, as their very presence makes metaphysical beings uncomfortable interacting with the physical realm. Magical effects and relics may spontaneously break down in the presence of an Anchor, without their direct control. All Anchors can perceive the Metaphysical Realm, though some may be driven mad by what they see. Individual Anchors have a varying degree of influence over metaphysical phenomena. An Anchor is the only kind of human being that can never become a Mage. Anchors have no discernible ontological gap, though they remain dual beings.
A form of Archon aligned with purposes that humans generally understand as good. They almost never interact with humans or residents of the Metaphysical Realm, and are rarely seen by either.
Metaphysical beings that are less powerful than Archons and more powerful than Minor Arcana. They commonly embody concepts that human beings understand as universal and authoritative. These include a number of spiritual representations of Death, Time, Reason, Liberty, or other similarly exalted concepts.
Metaphysical beings less powerful than Major Arcana and more powerful than mortal spirits. These generally represent localized phenomena, cultural icons, or concepts that humans do not see as universal.
The most powerful class of metaphysical being. Some of these, such as angels, are actually believed to be creatures from the Beyond, while others are residents of the Metaphysical Realm that have significant control over other spirits, command of significant portions of the Realm, and direct influence on the Physical Realm. The most powerful Archons that are known to never pass into the Beyond are a pair of entities that embody the Metaphysical Realm itself.
The realm of existence on the far side of the Metaphysical Realm. This is where human souls ultimately end up if they move on. Nothing that passes into the Beyond is known to ever return, though some kinds of Archon are believed to be able to cross between the Beyond and the other realms freely. Some human religions believe in transcendent beings that would reside in the Beyond and have the ability to cross over. Also called the Other Side, the Next Life, or any number of other names that indicate its role as an unknown, transcendent, final destination.
A class of being that is metaphysical in nature but trapped in, or at least frequently residing in, the Physical Realm.
Archons that receive human, and possibly metaphysical, worship and have direct influence or control over at least one aspect of reality that exists in both the Metaphysical and Physical Realms. If there is any transcendent being ruling over the Beyond, they would also classify as the greatest of the Deities.
Metaphysical beings that embody corruption, decay, and moral darkness. Most are generally considered either Minor or Major Arcana. Truly potent demons may even be considered Archons, and these are often believed to be from the Beyond and to share traits and power with angels. Demons are very fond of interacting with beings of all stripes, and desire power over the world and other entities. They are widely considered unworthy of trust.
Any entity that exists in two forms at all times, with one form in the Physical Realm and the other in the Metaphysical Realm. Humans of all forms, except for Nephilim, are the only known dual beings. Technically, nonliving physical objects that are influenced by and attached to a metaphysical entity (such as a river spirit) are dual in nature for all relevant magic or descriptions, but because one form is not alive they are not considered dual beings.
A kind of spirit, generally tied to the natural order and capricious in attitude. They are fond of magic and wary of all forms of humans and mortal spirits. They have a special distaste for Anchors. Fae will make contracts with any sort of being, however, and are experts at playing the terms to their advantage. Fae are organized into courts and races, and these have complex rules of interaction that take centuries to learn.
The barrier between the Physical and Metaphysical Realms. May also be called the Veil, the Wall, or any number of other names that indicate its role of dividing reality into two major forms.
Anything that serves primarily as the space between two other spaces. These may be concepts, times, places, or even beings. Any liminal thing may also have its own nature, but this nature is by definition related to the things it divides--either as a way to pass from one to another, or a way to hinder passage. Anchors are liminal beings, while openings in the Hedge are liminal spaces. The Hedge itself qualifies as a liminal space, but as it has no observable nature of its own, it is rarely considered one.
A practitioner of magic. May go by more specific titles depending on their inclination and magical focus, such as witches, sorcerers, or wizards. These divisions are useful in personal description but bear no difference worth exploring here.
Any activity performed in one realm that influences the other realm, the Hedge, or residents thereof. Magic performed by physical beings may influence physical beings, but usually by manipulating phenomena in the Metaphysical Realm that then impact the physical (manipulating a river spirit to allow safe passage through their river, for instance). While Anchors may have the ability to influence things in the Metaphysical Realm, this is not considered magic because they are sufficiently metaphysical in nature and their direct abilities are ones that counter effects considered magical.
The portion of reality in which spirits, concepts, human ghosts, and other non-physical entities reside. This realm is composed of the accumulated dreams, fears, and beliefs of mankind and shifts in response to large-scale changes in human thought or belief. Also called the spiritual realm.
Metaphysical entities that have a limited lifespan. These include human souls, which are divorced from their physical forms (and therefore cease to be dual beings) at the point of physical death and then can only last a certain amount of time in the Metaphysical Realm before crossing over to the Beyond or mutating into another form of spirit. Human souls that have become mortal spirits begin to lose their human nature, and slowly degrade into forms that resemble their state at the time of death, leading to the creation of beings like poltergeists or other formerly-human entities.
The direct offspring of one physical and some number of metaphysical parents. This is usually performed by the metaphysical parent taking on a physical form or passing fully into the Physical Realm, though it is possible for the physical parent to have traveled into the Metaphysical Realm. Nephilim (the plural form) are not dual beings, having their physical and metaphysical forms merged into one substance. They consistently have higher strength and stamina than normal humans. Most also have longer lifespans and powers related to the nature of their metaphysical parent, and the degree of power they have (and duration of an extended lifespan) are directly related to the power of the metaphysical parent at the time of conception (or birth, if the metaphysical parent carries the child to term). Archons create the most powerful and longest-lived Nephilim, while those born from mortal spirits are barely above the average human. Because there is no division of physical and spiritual forms, Nephilim will host physical traits reflecting their spiritual nature; the child of a demon may have horns and a tail, while the child of a wolf spirit may look like a werewolf. Some things considered cryptids, such as vampires and werewolves, may actually be Nephilim. If their metaphysical parent has the ability to change form at will, the Nephil may have the ability to hide their natural form and appear human.
The relative 'distance' between the two forms of a dual being. This space corresponds to the amount of connection between the physical and spiritual forms of a given individual, and the ease with which that bond can be interrupted. Possession and mind control both function by slipping another being or a set of information into the ontological gap. Beings with a very high ontological gap are therefore more highly susceptible to such attacks and less aware of the spiritual side of reality.
Any of a class of humans with a very small ontological gap, who are sensitive to the Metaphysical Realm. Seers frequently arise in bloodlines that have included at least one metaphysical being, but this is not a requirement. Highly attuned seers may be able to naturally and directly influence the Metaphysical Realm in a manner similar to weak forms of magic, but all seers have a knack for magic if they take it up.
Spirit of a People
A metaphysical being who serves as the functional representative of an entire people. This may be a race, a culture, a nationality, or even a belief system. Anything humans use to define their distinctive tribes may be used to determine a Spirit of the People. As direct representatives of a large mass of humans, and influencers over those who directly influence the nature of the Metaphysical Realm, Spirits of the People are considered among the most powerful forms of metaphysical being. The Spirit of a particularly numerous and/or influential people may rival deities for sheer power.
The full name given to an entity at the time of birth or creation. This name is infused into the very nature of the being and cannot ever be fully removed, and is so closely connected to the being themselves that it can be used to directly influence the being with effects generally considered magical. As a protection against this kind of magic, most metaphysical beings do not disclose their True Names and some humans keep some share of their name a secret, even going so far as to prevent a part of their child's full name from appearing on legal paperwork such as birth certificates.
A physical human, born into the bloodline of a metaphysical being, that functions to facilitate incursion into the Physical Realm by the metaphysical. All Warlocks are innately capable of magic and tend to be very powerful at it if they refine their ability. Warlocks have a natural knack for performing summonings, as their very presence makes metaphysical beings comfortable interacting with the physical realm. Magical effects may spontaneously manifest in the presence of a Warlock, without their direct control. All Warlocks can perceive the Metaphysical Realm, though some may be driven mad by what they see. Individual Warlocks have a varying degree of influence over metaphysical phenomena. Warlocks have no discernible ontological gap, though they remain dual beings. This renders them immune to possession and mind control.