Hellware Technology / Science in Shedim | World Anvil


666.exe? We're gonna need a bigger firewall.
  Hellware is an cursed piece of software, hexed by technomagic means to make life miserable for whoever has the misfortune to install it. It is a modern way to deliver ancient curses, firing emails like bullets and emerging from powershell scripts like the miasma from a mummy's tomb.  

Coding Curses

Hellware can take the form of any program, from annoying chatbot to a piece of email or a infected executable. The exact function around it is a shell that contain the beating heart of arcane-charged code, each 0 and 1 inscribed and enchanted. Despite its high-tech trappings, Hellware deliver many of the same curses that wizards have been slinging for centuries, from seven years of bad luck to warts that won't go away.   Still, the new medium allows for some particularly insidious ways for a tech-savy wizard to mess with people, from causing youtube videos to always buffer to facial recognitions program to always identify them as wanted criminals. The possibilities are vast and to technomagicians, hilarious.  
One particularly infamous piece of Hellware take the form of a Snapfilter, cursing its user to never get the lighting right in any picture they took with it on. Take that, Rodney!
by Unsplash (Jaroslav Devia)
Hellware are difficult and time-consuming to make, requiring mages of a particularly detailed-oriented mindset to see success. The idea that you can carve runes into bits of code isn't one that everyone can get into their head, but it's one of the fundamental ways of making Hellware. By enchanting the code itself, the mage can change the world as it executes, powered by the currents of the computer running it and the person behind the screen.   Because of this, Hellware isn't easy to replicate. Control + C and control + V doesn't carry the work over, blurring the edges of digital runes and rending them impotent. That, most wizards agree, is probably for the best, with regular ol' malware causing enough problem for the world without turning its victims into frogs, too.
Some Hellware change the physical structure of the machine running it, creating spiraling, fractal runes across motherboards and GPUs, or infecting other files on the system with repeating, arcane symbols.
  Most of the time, the delivery mechanism for Hellware is similar to any other virus and relies as much on social engineering as it does on magic. Of course, magic grants the cunning wizard a distinct advantage, able to tie the cursed software to a particular person through some sympathic connection or other sort of shenanigans.  


Digital Technomagic is at the bleeding edge of magic, but despite what stuffy old grognard think, humanity has always mingled technology and magic. What is an enchanted sword if not just a variant of that? As technolog increase in complexity, as humanity's hopes and dreams became powered by pistons and electric current, so too has the way magic can interact with it become more complex and abstract. As we split the atom and explore the reaches of space, the reach of magic grows too.   Some traditionalists fear to the future, clinging to grimoires and ancient traditions, but they're the minority. Most mages learn to incorporate the modern world into their Art without feeling robbed of their artistry. As any modern witch will tell you, any potion goes down better if it takes the form of a coffee latte. Technology doesn't diminish magic, but is helping it grow into new realms entirely, side by side or merged together. Who knows where it will lead next?

Cursing the Shell

While many curses unique to Hellware interact with the technology being used, some work either on the user directly or the vessel from which the code is played. Computers whose internal architecture restructre themselves to serve another (probably evil) purpose or iPhones that'll always lock when you need them the most, for instance.   As more and more of the world are entangled into the web of all things, where every device connects to everything else, such magic grow in reach and potential.  
Other, forward-thinking wizard look at different fields of technology for the next great breakthrough - genetics, medicine, biotech, or robotics all hold great promise yet realized.   Of course, nothing about magic is easy.


Other Hellwares are entirely within the digital realm, transforming into another kind of witchery entirely. #Hexxes are the best example of that, a insidious social-media curse that obscures, amplifies, or otherwise manipulates the algorithm that governs our daily lives more than we like to think about.   In a world where retweets equals influence, such #Hexxes can destroy or create careers, bury crimes, or any number of other horrors. This kind of magic is almost exclusively the field of younger magi.  
Spell | Dec 9, 2022

For when you need someone ratio'd into oblivion, accept no substitutes.

From robotic familiars to coffee latte alchemy, technomagic and magic have a bright or terrifying future together, depending on who you ask.


Author's Notes

Awesome Annie Art

Birthday Hellware that ages the victim

Please Login in order to comment!
Dec 9, 2022 11:27 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Noooooo! Don't make my videos buffer!!!!   I love the concept of runes inscribed within bitcode and the pettiness of all those curses XD People are really lucky they can't be copied and pasted!

Dec 9, 2022 14:22

True hell indeed! :D   It's a bit of a wonky thing to imagine, carving things into something that doesn't have a physical thing to interact with... But that's magic for ya :D   And I think everyone are lucky it isn't easy to replicate, yeah :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 9, 2022 12:12 by E. Christopher Clark

Nice work! In particular, I really love the visual of "spiraling, fractal runes [running] across motherboards and GPUs."

Vote for the Clarkwoods Literary Universe as Best World in the Worldbuilding Awards
Dec 9, 2022 14:21

Thank you! :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 9, 2022 13:28 by JRR Jara

This is a great concept! I bet the younger magi play pranks on the older magi all the time like this!

Creator of Hanzelot and many more.
Dec 9, 2022 14:22

Thank you! :D   And oh, you know it! Pranks all over the place :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 9, 2022 17:37 by AP.

Ah I thoroughly enjoyed this article Q! Robotic familiars and coffee latte alchemy...I love it! :)

Maker of Maps |AP.Cartography
Dec 9, 2022 18:44

Thanks AP :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 10, 2022 22:45

I love it!   Are there tech start-ups that specialise in making their own Hexware and marketing it as anti-Hexware software?   And is it being used for espionage, with no apparent trace of it running on the machine but silently copying and transmitting data to someone else?

Author of Labyrithis and more!
Dec 10, 2022 22:51

Thanks!   Nah, magic is pretty low-key and in the shadows. It's still all secret creepy occult stuff, rather than any sort of mass commercialisation   But the other, maybe at some point, but that just sounds like regular ol' malware, so probably not. Hellware is more for things wholly impossible by technology.   Thanks for reading and commenting :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 11, 2022 21:36 by Annie Stein

I like how you stress that this is how magic has always been done, it's always incorporated technology. Typical conservatives, conserving some kind of reality that never really existed in the first place! The limitations are really interesting too, usually technomancy kind of leans into the creepypasta kind of thing, but this takes it in a different direction. Always a welcome sight, that!

Creator of Solaris -— Come Explore!
Dec 12, 2022 16:06

It kinda struck me as I was writing it, and how magic in most settings always seem to have this "us vs. technology" thing going for it... And I've never been one much for doing it the same as everyone does. A sword is essentially technology with fewer moving parts, and no one bats an eyelash at that - or alchemy.   Time to hit the road to new, creepy destinations! :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Jan 7, 2023 19:01 by Fall

The mixing of the old hexes/curses and the new internet-of-things in Hellware brings a unique and refreshing view on things like viruses, malware and other such data-compromising code. Love it!   P.s. I've included this article in my New Year's Resolutions article <3

Jan 7, 2023 20:11

Thank you! :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Feb 2, 2023 21:01 by Paul Fijma

A way cool idea to use technology and magic. I can imagine that hackers sometimes do stuff that most people can't comprehend (as if magical). This is an interesting take. It feels the other way around. The effect is/can be destructive to the person using it. (instead of the hardware). It made me instantly think about human-cyborg-robot and levels of intrusion on another level. Excellent. I had a hard time choosing between the articles I had chosen as a winner for the technology special. And for that I appreciated it.

Akimotos, worldbuilder.
Feb 10, 2023 14:52

Thank you very much!! :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.