The Grimnoir Setting

Knights of New York
Grimnoir Setting
Our Story Thus Far

Larry Correia's Grimnoir series is set in the real 1930's, almost. But around 1850, people started to get mysterious powers. Each person who got a Power could only do one thing, like make fire or lift cars, and they could only do it for a while before their Power ran out. But otherwise, they were just like the rest of us.

The Great War of 1914-18 was even worse than the real World War One. The U.S. formed a Brigade of Actives (people with Power), but the Kaiser reanimated his dead and sent a million zombies against the Allies! After the Battle of Second Somme, the Allies finally won the war using Tesla's Peace Ray, which wiped out Berlin. 

Airships (zeppelins) are more common than aeroplanes. Passenger trips between cities are mostly by train, but sometimes by airship. Transoceanic travel tends to be on airships also.

There are three major powers in the world: the United States, the Soviet Union, and the Imperium of Japan. Britain and France were severely worn down by the Great War, and Germany had to fight a million zombies within its borders during the Twenties. The Japanese took Siberia away from the Czar in 1908, aided by the Tunguska Explosion that devastated the Siberian Army and their attack bears. Now the Soviets and the Imperium are watching each other, armed to the teeth. The Imperium keeps pushing in the Pacific, but hasn't gone to war with America. Yet. Everybody knows it's coming.

There's a Depression on, just like in our world. Lot of people out of work, and a good many have turned to crime. J. Edgar Hoover's Bureau of Investigation (the BI) doesn't use Actives, because Hoover doesn't trust them. However, the G-Men still have to bring in criminals with Powers! Sometimes they work with Active private investigators to track or arrest wanted Actives.

Actives are not exactly hunted, as in the X-Men comics, but a lot of people fear them. Movements from time to time have tried to ban or restrict the use of Power, or even get rid of Actives themselves. There still aren't enough Actives for this to be an idle threat, although their numbers are increasing.

In the Soviet Union, Power belongs to the State, and Actives are drafted as soon as they show their Power. In the Japanese Imperium, Actives are carefully trained to get the absolute most out of their Power, which they must use to serve the Imperium. Combat Powers are concentrated in the Iron Guard, an elite military force, and sneaky Powers make up the Shadow Guard, a modern ninja service. 

The Grimnoir Society is a secret organization created to prevent the use of magic for evil. Agents of the Society are called Knights, and each city's branch has an Elder as its commander. There are Grimnoir tables in New York, San Francisco, the Free City of Shanghai, and various places in Europe. Grimnoir Knights are not permitted to talk about the Society with outsiders, even agents of the law. They can ally with other groups without revealing their allegiance. 

Knights may recommend others for membership; all available Elders, including the leaders of different city lodges, consult on each new Knight. Upon taking the Oath, a new Knight is given a gold and black ring, which tingles whenever a Knight uses a communication spell to call for aid. All Knights are supposed to learn the spell to activate the ring and send messages, but not all of them are equally proficient.

Until recently, it was believed that no one could use more than one kind of Power, except for the Chairman of the Imperium, Okonobu Tokugawa.  The Chairman could, it is said, use all the Powers, or near enough. The 25 known Powers are:

Ace: absurdly lucky. Often difficult to identify as Actives, because nothing they do is impossible, just darn close to it.

Beastie: control the minds of animals, to the point of seeing through their eyes and using their bodies as one's own.

Boomer: explode the dust and static charges in the air.

Brute: superstrength, with somewhat enhanced durability as well. Not bulletproof, but it takes a lot of bullets to bring one down.

Babel: can speak or read any language.

Crackler: control electricity. Some prefer to be called "Edisons."

Cog: Inventive genius. A Cog specializes in one form of technology, be it guns, electricity, engines, or something else. The Peace Ray and the practical Zeppelin airship are fruits of Cog genius that affect everyday life.

Fade: Walk through solid matter. Fades become gray and transparent when they Fade, but not truly invisible.

Finder: commands invisible spirits. A Finder can send his spirits out to find people, spy on their activities, and so on. Not quite clairvoyance, as the spirit can make mistakes and sometimes be detected.

Heavy: Control gravity. Can make things heavier, lighter, or fall in different directions. The polite term is "Gravity Spiker." Heavies have a reputation for being slow and thick-witted.

Healer: heals injuries. Uses the body’s own healing powers, though vastly amplified. A Healer cannot regrow a limb, but if the severed limb is placed back on the wound in time, the Healer can reattach it.

Icebox: controls and creates cold.

Justice: no one can lie to a Justice, and a Justice can see traces of where people have passed.

Lazarus: can bind a spirit to its body, thus literally raising the dead. The zombie thus created cannot be killed, although enough damage to its brain will make it unable to perceive its immortality. Lazaruses cannot undo their work.

Massive: increase the Active’s density, making him bulletproof and hard to budge. Comic books call it ‘invulnerability’.

Mouth: mind control. A Mouth can make people believe anything he says, although it’s easier with a plausible story. It is possible, but difficult, to resist a Mouth’s Power.

Mover: lift and move objects. Movers must be able to see what they are moving.

Pale Horse: cause fatal illness. Like a Healer, the Pale Horse must touch his victim. He cannot undo his Power, although he can certainly claim to be able to do so.

Reader: reading minds. It is possible to resist, but difficult, although people who have successfully resisted a Reader once or twice get better at it. There is no Sender Power in this setting.

Ringer: look and sound like anyone.

Shard: can grow new bones, including teeth, claws, spines, and skeletal limbs. A limb without muscles isn’t that useful.

Summoner: bring monsters from Hell (actually, a very unpleasant alternate universe) into the world. Summoners can command their creations, but strong-willed demons usually resist being called up in the first place, so Summoned creatures tend to be pretty stupid.

Torch: creates and controls fire.

Traveler: teleports to anyplace the Traveler can see. Can teleport blind, but appearing inside a solid object is bad for the object and the Traveler.

Weatherman: control the weather.

In the stories, a few people learn to 'extend' their Power into similar powers. Through deep study and practice during years in prison, Heavy Jake Sullivan learned to make himself more massive; that is, a Heavy developed the Massive Power in addition to being Heavy. A Crackler might, through years of effort, learn to be a Weatherman as well, or perhaps a Pale Horse could learn to be a Healer (although I wouldn't want to be one of his experimental patients!) Sullivan theorized that all aspects of the Power are connected, but some are more closely related than others.  Eventually, it might be possible to learn all aspects of the Power, and see it as a unified whole. The Chairman is said to have come close to doing so, and in WARBOUND, someone else comes even closer.

There are two other forms of magic: spells and kanji.

Spells are particular forms of magic summoned by geometry. To cast a spell, the caster must draw a complex geometric pattern, while visualizing the three- or higher-dimensional shape being pictured. If successful, the spell makes a specific contact with the Power, drawing down enough energy to perform one function. Spells in the books include the communication spell, used to talk to fellow Grimnoir Knights; the ward of weakness, drawn on someone's body to prevent them from contacting the Power, and the Nixie spell, which creates a black hole of annihilation which destroys all it touches. Learning a given spell is very difficult.

Kanji are geometric tattoos cut into the body with blood and demon ink. Like spells, they draw energy from the Power, but unlike spells, they are always on. The Shadow Guard use kanji to grant them extra strength, speed, healing, sharp senses, and so forth.

Each kanji brands the soul; it requires great willpower to resist the pain. The second kanji written on someone's flesh hurts far worse than the first; most people can't take more than two or three. It is possible to strain so hard to accept a kanji that the subject dies.

Western kanji are unique to the individual; Jake Sullivan's healing tattoo looks nothing like the one devised by Faye Viera. It is possible to invent a kanji; the Japanese kanji were presumably invented by the Chairman, but well-read, strong-willed Actives of any culture can attempt it. In the books, no one has been able to create a kanji (or 'pattern' for a Westerner) without first having mastered two different Powers.