Home World Magic Inhabitants Society

Home > Inhabitants > Humans


three humanoid figures, labeled Valefar, Furtur, & Ronwe
Some examples of humans, labeled with their respective cities of origin. Image description

In present day, "human" is a word with many contentious definitions. While specific criteria vary between schools of thought, it is generally understood as a blanket term for all sapient people made of physical matter in Empyria (to contrast spirits, the equivalent term for those made of mana).

All humans share a roughly similar bipedal body plan, with an upright spine, two arms, and a large head, but otherwise vary wildly in appearance and anatomy. In addition to their intelligence and culture, humans are also notable for their ability to cast spells, something found in no other species.


During the First Age, humans were a single species without significant variations in appearance. However, the dense field of mana that spread across the entire planet after the Cataclysm had a mutating effect on humans, possibly due to their unique magical abilities. While existing humans were unaffected, all newly born babies were warped and reshaped by the composition of the background mana field where they were born. Children born in one town might have scales and a snout, while those born in another town might have a tail, and so forth.

This continues to be the case today. While most humans can still interbreed, the appearance of their offspring is more determined by location than individual genetics.

Original Appearance?

Reliable accounts of pre-Cataclysm history are rare, but scientists have constructed a mostly complete image of pre-Cataclysm humans from their art and remains. They were flat-faced and only had vestigial tails, though the presence or absence of other features (such as whiskers and coloration) are still hotly debated. There are some minor factions in the Church of Aether that believe themselves to be true humans, untouched by the taint of the mana field unlike all the other heathens claiming the human name, but they are rarely taken seriously by anyone else.


Humans possess a mana organ system - a unique collection of glands and tubes in the torso and arms, which grant the ability to sense, store, and manipulate mana. Even children can use them to easily cast spells, though their power is limited until the system fully develops around the mid-teens. As such, magic is commonly used in day-to-day life in every part of Empyria.

The rough function of each piece of the system is known: mana from the atmosphere is channeled up through the spine and stored in the brain, then conducted through ports in the hands. However, the specifics of how they work and what they evolved from are still completely unknown to today's scientists, despite their best efforts. No similar system has ever been found in any other living being, and the human brain can safely compress and store mana in much higher densities than any manmade battery.

Magic Organ Disorders

For some reason, the mana organ system interacts very little with the rest of the body. They aren't specifically targeted by any diseases, and seem to cause no problems even if completely removed. While things can go wrong with one's mana organs, the worst that usually happens is losing one's ability to cast spells.

The most common cause of these disorders is physical trauma. Brain injuries can reduce one's mana storage capacity, while spinal cord injuries may cut off the ability to sense mana. Many mages have had their magic go out of control after losing an arm, as well.

Occasionally, congenital disorders can cause people to be born without some or all of their magic organs. Some of these people may still be able to do magic in a limited form - for example, those without mana storage organs might still be able to draw mana out of batteries and manipulate it - but others lack the ability entirely.

Lack of magic makes life more inconvenient and dangerous, but under certain circumstances it can also be advantageous. A few people with no mana storage organs have made livings as adventurers, since monsters ignore their presence. It has no effect on human bandits, though, so it's an unpopular lifestyle.

Cursed Humans

The background mana field in much of Empyria is so overwhelmingly strong that it mutates newborns in terrifying and usually lethal ways. Despite the wildly varying appearance of natural humans, cursed children are still instantly identifiable by their patchwork appearance; it is as if entire chunks of their flesh were replaced by random monster parts. These children are referred to as cursed, and very rarely survive infancy as their internal organ systems often don't line up.

The few cursed children who survive to adulthood may develop strange supernatural powers. Although natural humans vary somewhat in physical ability, their abilities are determined by their physical anatomy; for example, no human can fly even if they have wings, because their mass and body shape make it impossible. However, a cursed human with wings might be able to fly magically, and a cursed human with a monster mouth might be able to chew through and metabolize steel, and so forth.

In most places, cursed children are seen as a bad omen - a reminder that despite their technological advances, humans are still helpless before the inscrutable whims of magic. There is even a widespread belief that you or your future children can "catch" a curse by getting too close to one, though there is no evidence to support this.