Setting: The World of Wuxing
The world is set in a setting that is both incredibly magical and much industry and technology is being created frequently. I’m trying to go for an 1800s era vibe with modifications based on it also coming from a highly magical society.
Almost every human in the world is magical in some nature which gave them the advantages to flourish in this world. Most people are aspected towards one of the five elements of the Chinese Elemental Wheel, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, or Water.
The world is also inhabited by spirits, creatures that exist on another plain of existence that lines up with those on the physical plane. The spirit plane is largely unknown except that those on that plane can cross over into ours through a possession technique.
A Magical World
Spellcasting in Tan Suo uses the elements of Chinese Philosophy’s Wu Xing – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.
Every person in the world is connected to one of these elements with rarer people connected to two or more. Most people in the world are able to manipulate a small amount of their own spiritual energy, known as ki, to produce an effect associated with their own element. The most basic of skills is the projection of a barrier to protect themselves from harm.
Usually magic creates a temporary effect. If a wall is created it will disappear once the creator stops concentrating on their spell. It takes a powerful caster to create a permanent effect of any kind and as such these talented individuals are often held in high regard and are in great demand.
Spirits are creatures that roam the land invisible and intangible to anyone in the physical realm. Not much is known about them except that they seem to be individualistic and free to their own whims.
Spirits are beings that are made of pure magical energy. They can cast spells without the same restrictions of needing concentration, but unlike humans seem to only ever possess one elemental affinity and only one branch of magic at that.
Creatures that exist on the physical plane are incapable of interacting with spirits. The inverse is also mostly true except through a technique spirits are capable of called possession. Spirits can merge themselves with non-magical creatures or objects on the physical plane and take control of their hosts. A creature dominated in this way falls victim to the whims of the spirit as the spirit decides on actions of its host.
Creatures that have become possessed will often take on aspects of the spirit that has bound with them. A flame aspected spirit may ignite its host’s body in flame while a wood aligned one may have their flesh harden with bark. This is not always the case though as more subtle spirits may mask or subdue these features to more easily blend in with other creatures of its kind.
Creatures with the ability to use magic are able to protect themselves from possession. For whatever reason, barriers have always been a strong deterrent to spirit possession and expulsion. Once a barrier is in place a spirit is incapable of possessing anyone under its protection and spirits within one are immediately sent back to their home plane.
The motivations of spirits are largely unknown but the prevalent theory is they simply wish to incite chaos.
Colloquially called Spirit Stone, this violet stone with an amber glow has the unique property of repelling spirits from passing through its aura.
The Physical World
Most humans reside in large communities protected by powerful magically made walls to keep those that would harm out. People generally fear the areas outside of the cities where non-magical beasts roam. The fear of spirits attacking is far too much a real threat to entice those to venture forth.
Currently, the world can be described as being set in a state of industrialism. Civilian work within the cities to help provide for their cities and towards expansion of their borders.
Technology is rapidly being developed, especially in the cities of Minerva, Apollo, and Liber. Trains can be found within Minerva, steam powered lifts are throughout Apollo's mountains, and guns can be found throughout the world.
Most people are fearful of what could be lying in wait beyond the safety of their homes. Excursions from the cities is uncommon for most but on occasion a person may be forced to venture out, especially if they need to travel to another city.
While it is true that the land outside the cities is dangerous, it does not mean they are entirely inhabitable to humans. The main concern is the wildlife and the spirits that freely take control of them. Humans seeking freedom from the monotony of city life will create small villages and maintain outside of the rules of the cities. Their success in such endeavors however is far more variable.
The world is not populated by more monstrous creatures that exist within fantasy. Oozes, undead, and the abyssal are products of fairy tales. Every creature in this planet have a natural bend to them and are unlikely to have any kind of magical inclination towards them. The beasts of the world often fall within animals that exist on earth, their combinations, and dinosaurs of the past.