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Earth-9 Today

Has Earth-9 entered into a new era of history? Quite possibly. While many elements of the past remain, none have been left unchanged by the world-shaking changes of the past decade. After these many strange events, the world's superhumans (or Awakened) can be roughly classified into three groups:

Novas

Novas go by many names, but that is the general classification used by most normals for this group. Novas are bound by a common source of power, namely the Gate Keys. The Gate Keys themselves are an Order-aspected source of cosmic energy that is inclined to open specific channels in the sentient mind. There are three Gate Keys, each of which is actually a frequency of this peculiar energy.

Eternals gain their power from the first two Gate Keys, discovered in the First Age by the great rivals Atlan and the Destroyer. The Destroyer discovered the first, which is the most pattern-based of the three and therefore the most predictable. Atlan, whose mind was more flexible, influenced the second Key into being more balanced, and therefore more attuned to the living patterns of creation. Eternals are, predictably, immortal by nature, and their other powers are discussed elsewhere.

Wildstrikers receive their power from the heavily disrupted energies of the third Gate Key. In the First Age, this Key was tied to those Exalted with more orderly tendencies, creating a balance within these important beings. The Proprietor's disruption of the Third Key has resulted in its powers being spread unpredictably throughout humanity, causing those touched by the Wildstrike to have unique and deeply personal power suites. They are "superheroes" in the most traditional sense, though they can expand their abilities like any other Awakened being on Earth-9.

Inspired

The majority of Awakened on Earth-9 still gain their power the old-fashioned way: by working for it. Inspired are mystics, psychics, wizards, super-scientists, occultists, and myriad other types of will-workers. Whatever the path, however the Inspired seek wisdom, truth, and power, recognizing all three as facets of the same goal -- Ascension. Inspired fall under three basic categories:

Mesmerists turn their minds inward to call on their powers. Psychics and most "supernatural" martial artists fall under this category, invoking the power within to perform amazing feats of mind over matter. Through this form of Inspiration, super-spies go through fights without messing up their hair, shaolin warriors can punch opponents from across the room, and psychics are able to have a strong effect on the weak-minded.

Enlightened -- sometimes called Mages, though this term is deeply divisive among their kind -- have the widest range of power of any Awakened, both in breadth and depth. Enlightened fundamentally alter reality itself through their Arts, which can literally be any form of study. Martial arts, hedonism, physics, wizardry, hacker philosophy, and even study of the long-discredited "ether" allow mages to perform the "impossible." The true source of this power is their Inspiration, which they believe is in its purest form in their meta-Art -- and given that Enlightened have the potential to literally do anything, it is difficult to discount their argument. Reality, however, is a difficult thing to change, and even in the Sixth Age mistakes can be costly. The Enlightened Arts are currently easier to use than at any time since the Second Age, but are still the most hazardous to wield of all Awakened powers.

Finally, the Enchanted use the energies around them -- Glamour, feng shui, quintessence, or other naturally-occurring forces -- to alter both themselves and the world around them. While the Enchanted can be anything from magical immortals (including mummies and the few remaining vampires) to "spellcasters" to those Inspired by the magick of the Exalted or faerie (including many so-called Changelings), they all work these universal forces to evoke their desired effects. While in theory, they don't have the flexibility of the Enlightened, in practice their enchantments are capable of virtually limitless variety and truly awe-inspiring power.

Exalted

While some Inspired, particularly the Enchanted, can use the primal Essence of creation for various effects, the Exalted embody this awesome force. They are living incarnations of Essence itself, transformed by fate or even the gods to become champions of various primal forces. Like Novas, Exalted come in two basic varieties:

Celestial Exalted are the only remaining varieties of human Exalted. Only two types of Celestials remain, their purposes complementing and balancing one another. Solar Exalted are avatars of heroism and warfare, channelling Essence to enhance their prowess fantastically in fields ranging from combat to diplomacy. Where once they were the emissaries of the gods, they are now hunters and slayers of monsters, protecting humanity from the Malfeans. Lunar Exalted are responsible for legends of shapeshifters throughout the world. They are capable of becoming animals and were-creatures, possess frightening physical abilities, and can wield many mystical powers. They exist to defend the natural world from destruction -- even if it means opposing humanity itself. Yet Solar and Lunar alike have a common enemy in Oblivion's servants, who would destroy man and nature alike to recreate the world in their own twisted image.

Mythics are those non-human, magickal beings that survived through the existence of Exalted energies. Some faerie survived by becoming part-human (and thus Enchanted), but most of their kind preferred retreat to such a desperate ploy. More to the point, the less humanoid creatures of the Mythic Age, like dragons, gryphons, and elementals, lacked that option. Most were forced to flee to spirit realms, but some had the strength to survive the Fifth Age. That strength came from Exaltation. The Mythic Exalted are usually paragons of their various species, and even the younger ones have impressive power. Mythic Exalted are still very rare, but Mythic Changelings and other wondrous Exalted have returned to Earth-9 in force once more.

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