Culture and Society

Life in Mythic Wood

Mythic Wood is a small town, but it is far from typical in that respect. With so many varied influences on the local culture, it is a rather progressive and inclusive community overall. Its population includes people of a wide variety of races, creeds, and orientations. Though there are certainly some that would prefer a more homogeneous local culture, these people remain in the minority.

Mythic Wood has a strong economy, and jobs are plentiful, primarily provided by Eos or the lumber mill. Eos's investments in the town have improved the quality of life in other ways, such as renovating the hospital to a state-of-the-art medical center, expanding school programs, and wiring the whole town with ultra high-speed internet for free.

Public Services

The town has no local police force, instead relying on the county sheriff's department to handle law enforcement. The reservation has its own law enforcement, the Tribal Police. See Law, below, for more details.

There is a local U.S. Post Office and a volunteer fire department in town.

There is no public transportation in Mythic Wood. With everything being so near together, there just isn't a need. A few locals have tried becoming Uber drivers, but there just isn't a sustainable market for it. The closest thing that exists is a shuttle from the casino that primarily transports elderly customers and those too intoxicated to get home safely.

Wizards in the Valley

The average day of a wizard isn't all that different from a blig's. They wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, go shopping, go to work, take care of the family, and so on and so forth. What is different is how they go about these tasks. Magic is pervasive in the wizarding world, and while wizards don't use magic for everything, it does tend to be present in some form or another wherever they go. That said, in Mythic Wood things are heavily integrated, so the magic tends to be subtler and wizards have learned to do many things the bliggish way.

In the Old World, wizards tend to cling to a way of life from the bygone past. In America, and especially Mythic Wood, wizards do their best to go unnoticed among the non-magical population, rather than hiding away from it. As a result, American wizards are usually much more familiar with bliggish ways and customs.

The one area where they sometimes have difficulty is with technology — particularly electrical devices. Magic has a way of interfering with the normal behavior of electricity, making it difficult for wizards to use a lot of modern devices. As such, most wizard homes tend to stick to candles or other magical means of illumination, and relatively few electrical appliances. It can be quite frustrating to accidentally ruin the roast because the cook's charm for mixing cake batter caused the oven to malfunction. It is no coincidence that gas stoves and outdoor grilling are popular cooking choices among wizards.

The Weirdness of Mith-Ih-Kwuh Valley

The land that the Miluk people call Mith-Ih-Kwuh, or "Morning Star", is full of strange phenomena. The entire valley is like a magnet for magical activity. It lures wizards and magical creatures, often without realizing that they've been drawn to it.

For the local American Indians, this is nothing new. The Miluk that settled in the valley were supposedly tasked with stewardship of it by a powerful spirit long ago. The other tribes that jointed the Tribal Alliance have come to accept these legends as well. To most Indians, there is no question that the valley is full of spirits and monsters. The majority of them are fully aware that there are "wizards" living among them, though they think of the native magic-users as shaman. In fact, the Reservation is technically a sovereign territory, even from MACUSA, and as long as there are no incidents that can be observed from outside of the Res, the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy is essentially void there. The deeper one gets into the forested areas of the Res, the more true this becomes.

Due to the presence of so many magical beings, the bligs of Mythic Wood are far more likely to believe in the supernatural than their counterparts beyond the valley. To them, the notion of people that can do extraordinary things like cast curses is not out of the question, and Bigfoot's existence is a no-brainer. There are plenty of local bligs, particularly in Haven, that have adopted pagan practices like Wicca and truly believe that they are wielding magic. Beyond that, few would outright admit that they believe in magic, but the truth is that most people accept that the valley is full of weirdness. When something inexplicable occurs, the bligs will give one another knowing nods and go on with their lives. If it is significant enough, they might take notice and talk about it as if it were unusual weather. Only the most extreme magical happenings become cause for concern, especially if they directly impact a blig's life.

As a result of this unspoken acceptance of all things weird, obliviation is not a common practice in Mythic Wood, and is considered sacrilegious on the Res. MACUSA authorities gave up trying to erase the memories of every little magical event there a long time ago. The valley and its occupants seem to have ways of keeping themselves secluded and unnoticed, so the powers-that-be rely on that seclusion to protect wizarding secrecy.

One of the most outstanding attributes of the valley is how it affects magic itself. In particular, many forms of transportation magic are essentially useless there. While brooms can still fly, all manner of instant teleportation are rendered null, including apparition, the Floo Network, and portkeys.

Economy

The economy in America has seen better days, but it is relatively stable. Not so long ago, Mythic Wood's economy was suffering. The lumber mill used to employ a huge percentage of the town's population. But the last few decades in Oregon have seen the rise of many environmental regulations that have taken a toll on the lumber industry. Though the mill remained open, it could no longer operate at the levels it once did, and that meant letting go of a large number of workers.

Poverty in the town was a big problem, and those that had the means to leave for greener pastures did so. That was until 2012, when the Eos Corporation set up shop in Mythic Wood. Suddenly, jobs were plentiful, and Eos wisely invested in training programs to give people the skills they needed to work for Eos. Even the schools now have technology classes that are essentially preparing kids for Eos careers. Within five years, Eos has single-handedly reversed the course of Mythic Wood's economy, nearly eliminating unemployment.

No economy is perfect, and one of the problems that has arisen from Eos's efforts is gentrification and the impact on real estate. As they lure new workers to Mythic Wood, rents and home values have risen. This has cause some families to be uprooted, and made things more difficult for the poorer citizens of the town. For the poor living in Haven, this is less of an issue, as they tend to be more self-sufficient. Others usually find themselves in cheap apartments or the trailer park. There are very few homeless in the town, and most are either just passing through, or part of the local color and looked after by the residents.

Wizarding Currency

The basic currency used by American wizards is a gold coin called the dragot. There are smaller denominations, simply called the half-dragot and quarter-dragot, worth 50% and 25% of a dragot, respectively. The smallest coin is a copper piece called the sprink, worth 1/100th of a dragot.

For simplicity's sake, the current economic value of the American wizarding currency is the same exchange value as blig money. A dragot is worth a dollar, and a sprink is worth one cent. The Oregon Trust Bank has a special exchange room (which seems like a second safety deposit room to bligs) where they will exchange blig and wizard currency.

Law

Law enforcement in Mythic Wood is handled by the Sheriff's Department. The local office is run by a Chief Deputy, who commands a number of other Sheriff's Deputy's. Being a county position, the Sheriff's Department has jurisdiction even beyond town borders, and will even police the highway, calling in support from the Oregon State Troopers if the situation requires it.

The one exception to the Sheriff's jurisdiction is the reservation. On the Res, the Tribal Police have total authority in any non-federal matter (federal crimes would require the intervention of the FBI). Sometimes a suspect will cross the reservation border to escape justice. However, the Sheriff's Office and the Tribal Police have a decent working relationship. Usually the only times that relationship is strained is when the suspect is Indian and the Sheriff wants permission to apprehend on tribal land. The Tribal Police can be rather territorial, as is their right.

Magical Law

Wizarding law enforcement is fairly similar to what the bligs have. MACUSA authorities do their best to install an Auror Magistrate (see Magistrates, below) in the local Sheriff's Office to oversee magical crime under a bliggish cover.

The tribes handle their own magical justice. Though magical crime is uncommon, given the spiritual significance of magic in their culture, it does happen. They maintain a special force of wizards, called Ghost Warriors, that are called upon to deal with crimes of magic. Once captured, a council of elder shamans judges the accused and determines sentencing.

Magistrates

Local crimes that do not require special attention of the wizarding courts are handled by specially trained Aurors, called Magistrates, that are assigned to police a given region. Magistrates are both Sheriff and Justice, and have the authority to investigate, arrest, and convict or acquit members of the magical populace in their jurisdiction.

Magistrates exist to lighten the load on the courts, serving as Justices for small crimes of local concern, including (but not limited to):

  • Littering
  • Vandalism
  • Public lewdness
  • Public drunkenness
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Trespassing on private property
  • Assault
  • Petty theft
  • Burglary
  • Illegal hexing/jinxing/cursing
  • Illegal possession of controlled substances
  • Truancy
  • Unlicensed prostitution

Crimes that are always passed on to the higher courts include (but are not limited to):

  • Unauthorized use of the Dark Arts
  • Trespassing on government property
  • Assault on a MACUSA official
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual molestation/Rape
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder

Magistrates may enforce the following disciplinary action:

  • Detain a suspect for up to twenty-four hours (usually to allow time for an intoxicated individual to "dry up", or to keep a suspect from wandering off before an investigation is complete).
  • Sentence a convict to up to three days imprisonment in a local jail cell. Any sentence more severe than this means a stay in magical prison, and only the higher courts can impose such a sentence.
  • Temporarily confiscate the wand of a suspect or convict, for the length of their detainment or sentence.
  • Impose fines.
  • Impose public service. Typically this is manual labor, with no magic allowed.

Wand-Breakers

A wand-breaker a magical bounty hunter. While Aurors are very effective, sometimes MACUSA relies on people who are not quite as constricted by jurisdiction to hunt down rogue wizards and magical beings. When an official bounty is placed on a fugitive, the wand-breakers can step in.

Licensed wand-breakers have the authority to:

  • Pursue fugitives anywhere in the United States of America.
    • They may cross the border to Canada in pursuit of a fugitive, though Canadian rules are stricter about what a wand-breaker can do.
    • Wand-breakers can also enter Mexico to pursue a fugitive, but few fugitives will flee to Mexico, as they have far fewer legal protections there.
  • Capture and detain fugitives, using spells, physical binding, or containment cells to restrain them while bringing them to the authorities.
  • Confiscate the wands of wizard fugitives.
    • Ironically, a wand-breaker does not actually have the right to break a fugitive's wand. But all too often, the wand-breaker will report that the wand was conveniently destroyed in the struggle to capture, or by some accident after confiscation. Considering that it is mostly the truly vile and dangerous that have official bounties placed on them, this breach of protocol is usually overlooked.

The public perception of wand-breakers is that they are a rough and dangerous lot. In many cases, this is true, as it takes a certain kind of person to make a living out of chasing down dangerous fugitives. However, this image is also fueled by an historical association with Scourers — the vigilante wizard mercenaries that sprung up in the New World before MACUSA had formed. Scourers had a reputation for brutality that has haunted the bounty hunting profession ever since.

Trials

Whether handled by the courts or a local Magistrate, trials follow the same basic structure and set of rules. All creatures classified as Beings have the right to a fair trial, and may choose to represent themselves, or seek representation by a barrister.

Evidence and testimony gained by the following means are considered circumstantial, and cannot be considered by the court without additional substantiation from other sources:

  • Testimony of ghosts and other spirits.
  • Testimony extracted under Veritaserum.
  • Information gained via divination or the Sight.
  • Information gained via Legilimency.
  • Extracted memories.
  • Information gained through the use of a Time-Turner.

Underage Sorcery

Young wizards have certain restrictions placed on where and how they can use magic. Children (up until the completion of the 8th grade) may only use magic in an educational capacity. That is to say that it may only be used in the course of the ACCEL program, or in a private wizarding home for study purposes.

There is no Trace to track underage sorcery. It is considered intrusive and unreliable, particularly in an integrated community like Mythic Wood. Incidents of underage magic are to be investigated by the Magistrate, and if necessary, the youth to be placed on magical probation (meaning that they must submit their wand daily to the Magistrate for inspection). The reality is that most minor infractions in Mythic Wood get little more than a slap on the wrist, if they're even addressed at all. As long as no bligs actually see a wizard casting a spell, any general weirdness tends to be considered just another strange phenomenon of Mith-Ih-Kwuh Valley.

Magic in Self-Defense

Spells cast in self-defense are acceptable under the underage sorcery law. As long as the spell is not an excessive response to the danger, the incident will almost always be excused.

Social Status and Prejudice

Mythic Wood is considerably more progressive than the movies would have one believe about a small town. Though secluded, is has been strongly influenced by the close relationship with the local Native American tribes. The hippie environmentalists that founded Haven in the 1960s also provided a new injection of free-thinkers. The recent influx of "new blood" that Eos has attracted has also helped diversify the town even further.

Due to this diversity, the prevailing attitude in Mythic Wood is one of inclusiveness. Those few that hold on to racial and cultural prejudices learn quickly that they won't find a lot of support from their neighbors. Acceptance for the LGBTQ community was slower to come, but Mythic Wood has kept up with the shifting social attitudes seen across the country.

Blood Status

Wizards are just as progressive as their blig cousins in this regard. Unlike many other places in the world, the concept of blood status (i.e. distinguishing between pure-blood, half-blood, and Muggle-born/Blig-born wizards) is almost nonexistent in America. Many wizards couldn't say whether they are half-blood or pure-blood, as it just doesn't matter to most.

The only group in Mith-Ih-Kwuh Valley that is concerned with such distinctions is the Lestrange Family. They carried their Old World prejudices with them, and have carefully maintained their pure-blood lineage, in-breeding among themselves and the rare pure-blood witch or wizard that chooses to join their clan.

Religion

Religion is nearly as diverse in Mythic Wood as anything else, with many faiths being followed in the valley.

Christianity remains the most prominent religion, though even it is divided among many churches and denominations. One of the most prevalent among these is the Church of the Holy Revelation, founded by the charismatic Reverend Jonah Peterson.

Though the town lacks a synagogue or mosque, there are a number of Jewish and Muslim citizens. Haven is home to many Buddhists, and even hosts the gatherings of a coven of Wiccans.

Among the Tribes there is variety, as well. The average SOTA member honors the spirits and believes in the old ways, but is also practical about the modern era. For some, this means a more casual approach to spirituality. For others, it is expanding traditional beliefs to accept the notion of spirits in everything, even modern technology. Still others practice a blend of Indian traditions and Christianity.

It is rare to find a Native that doesn't believe in the spirits at all; it's difficult to dismiss such beliefs when one's next-door neighbor can call upon the spirits to fetch the TV remote from across the room.

The deeper one travels into the Res, the more one will find that there is a strong movement to return to the old ways, ritualistically honoring the spirits and living in communion with the land. These deeply spiritual people are rarely seen by visitors, and almost never travel beyond the Res.

Technology

For the most part, the level of technology in Witchcraft and Wizardry is equivalent to the real world. The one exception is in the IT field, where Eos and Cassidy Soldahl are pushing the boundaries of online interaction. Eos has equipped Mythic Wood with the fastest Internet connection available in the country, made all the more impressive with the use of Soldahl's predictive transfer protocol technology.

Wizards and Technology

Wizards are not known for their technology savvy. American wizards are more familiar with blig technology, due to living so closely with them, and this is even more true in Mythic Wood. Still, there is a fundamental problem when using any kind of electrical device. Magic tends to interact with other forms of energy, especially electricity, making it behave oddly. As a result, most electrical devices will malfunction when in the presence of active magic. The stronger the magic, the more likely the malfunction. In places where powerful magic is omnipresent, such as Hogwarts, electrical device do not function at all.

In order to make such devices work around magic, they must be converted to run on magic. But the more complex the device, the more difficult this is to achieve. Advanced technology like computers and cell phones have remained beyond the ability of wizards to convert. As a result, all attempts by wizards to take advantage of the Internet for magical matters have met with failure, as the charms requires to maintain secrecy would simply ruin the terminals and servers. But that was before Eos.

An interesting side-effect of Cassidy Soldahl's predictive transfer protocol is how it interacts with magic. While computers may not play nice with magic, raw information itself does. Previous attempts to encrypt wizarding data have failed because it existed on electrical machines. But in 2015 it was discovered that the predictive transfer protocol allowed wizards to bewitch data while en route, and it would retain the necessary charms after arriving on the intended server. It isn't fully understood how this works, but the predictive nature of the protocol somehow "figures out" how the data needs to be formatted to receive the magical protection. How a bliggish woman managed to create something that interacts so elegantly with magic remains a mystery.

What this revelation has allowed for is the creation of the OwlNet. This is the wizards' own little corner of the Internet, where they can create web content that is magically protected. A blig looking at anything on the OwlNet will simply find it uninteresting. MACUSA has been slow to embrace this new tool, but a whole generation of young wizards have jumped in feet first. What they can do with it is still limited, but the potential is there, just waiting to be cracked open.

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