Encyclopaedia Arcana #58: Normals and Magic (Part Four)

Continuing from the previous entry, this part will look at some of the other kinds of normals.  It’s worth stressing once again that given the enormous variance of the normal population, all of these categories are very broad generalisations and only cover the respective group’s attitude towards magic.

Insensitive, Narrowly Credulous

For every widely credulous normal, there are many more who’ll believe some impossible things but not others.  They might be hard-headed in most respects, but in some particular area they’re more likely to listen and they’ll accept explanations that they’d reject out of hand if they came from anywhere else.  In most cases, from a mage’s point of view, this doesn’t matter much.  Just because a normal’s more likely to believe something if it’s justified as a religious miracle (or psychic powers, or a political conspiracy, or super-science, or whatever) that doesn’t make them functionally very different.

Every now and again, though, you get a normal who doesn’t believe in most out-there stuff but who does believe in magic.  They’re rare by normal standards, but since normals outnumber everyone else by such a huge margin that still makes for a lot of them.  Without a sensitive’s abilities they can’t perceive magic directly, but they can figure things out the ordinary way.

These types of normals often gravitate towards those religions with magical traditions, such as Wicca or druidism.  Those with a more investigative bent frequently unearth evidence of mage society and magical creatures, and there’s a small but widespread community of them who meet privately and online to share information about the magical world.  Much of what they ‘know’ is wrong, but some of their conclusions are surprisingly accurate.

Narrowly Sensitive, Credulous

Blurring the line between sensitive and normal are the narrowly sensitive.  They can sense one or several types of magic (perhaps even a whole family) but not others.  It’s still possible for them to have the same psychological aversion to magic that normals do, although it’s less common.  Narrowly sensitive people are more common than full sensitives, but they’re still rare, outnumbered at least ten to one by full normals.

Widely credulous, narrowly sensitive people end up being more or less indistinguishable from widely credulous, insensitive ones.  Other normals can’t tell any difference at all.  From the point of view of a mage, the narrowly sensitive observer is more likely to notice when something genuinely magical is happening, but it’s unlikely that they’ll get anyone who isn’t also a credulous type to listen.  It’s not unknown for mages and adepts to strike up relationships with them, but it’s rare – more often they end up in the position of the crazy old aunt or uncle whom no-one really listens to, even though now and then they’re the only one who can see that something’s going on.

Narrowly Sensitive, Skeptical

Being narrowly sensitive doesn’t necessarily make a person easily convinced or trusting.  Knowing that a small fraction of reports of magic are true can just as easily make one impatient with the false ones – once you’ve experienced the real thing, it’s hard to take the substitutes seriously.

Skeptical, narrowly sensitive normals only have a small perspective into the magical world, but it’s a real one nevertheless, and it puts them a step ahead of even the most dedicated insensitive.  By the same token, the fact that they’re only narrowly sensitive means that they tend to have much more in common with skeptical normals than full sensitives do.  This – coupled with the fact that mages tend to get on much better with narrowly sensitive but skeptical normals than they do with credulous ones – means that the members of this group often end up acting as the bridge between normals and the magical world.

Of all the six categories looked at over the past two entries, this group is the smallest, yet from the point of view of the magical world perhaps the most important.  From the doctor who knows when to call in a life mage to treat an otherwise hopeless case, to the detective who acts as liason between the Keepers and the regular police, these are the people who span the gap between the mages and adepts of the Council bureaucracy and the great structures and organisations of the mundane world.  Their influence isn’t as obvious as that of the mages, but they tend to be the ones who keep things running from day to day.

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2 Responses to Encyclopaedia Arcana #58: Normals and Magic (Part Four)

  1. Sam says:

    Indeed. You know what they say “There’s no smoke without a fire.” Even if 99% is total bull there is still the 1%.