Here be dragons - and much worse.At the end of the world, far from Earth and the winding roads of the Shadow lies the Beyond - a realm of monsters and magic, of wonder and horror. It is a different reality, far from the mundanities of mortal life, a world of primordial magic and terrible power. In the Beyond, myth becomes flesh and blood, terrors lurk in abodes made from nightmares, and faeries hunt their prey across dark labyrinths. As far as anyone can tell, it is endless - an expanse of unearthly realms, sewn together like an ever-changing jigsaw puzzle. Continents and mountains shift like sand in the wind, and wanderers can never trust the same road twice. Here, gods and devils hold court, ancient secrets lie waiting, and fools go to their doom seeking them.
The World Beyond Worlds
We don't need a map where we're going.Entering the Beyond is like plunging into the dreams of a mad god. Monsters rule here, and they can shape the world around them to suit their whims. A Walker can find herself in a cavern of living flesh, an endless hedge maze, or a walking castle just as likely a run-down bar from some distant memory. Even on paths where things look sane, the Beyond doesn't play by the rules of humans, and to forget that can be fatal in short order.
It's not to say all of the Beyond is inherently hostile to mortals - above all, it is alien, watching humans like a whale might watch a drowning ant.
Even worse, the rules always change depending on where in the Beyond you are. Step from one realm into the next, and reality is different. Some places are stable enough to function like landmarks for a Walker, while others are little more than identity-dissolving swirls of chaos.
Despite that, some cults hold that the Beyond is a Heaven, for those who can withstand it.The magic that suffeses all of the Beyond doesn't care all that much about logic and reason, but is shaped by thought and emotion. Visiting mortals will never find a road measured in steps, but instead in trials and intent. Wanting to go somewhere can get you there just as much as walking.
Scars are jagged parts of the Beyond where different realities violently clash together and fused. Even for the Beyond, Scars are dangerous and unstable places that even gods fear to approach.Perhaps fortunate, reaching the Beyond is almost never easy. Walking between worlds requires a Gate and a Key, neither which are particularly easy to find when it comes to the Beyond. Most are found in the Shadow, far from where most wizards conduct business, or under heavy guard by those squatting on such prizes. Though a few Gates lead directly from earth to the Beyond, they often require rare or terrible Keys, like alignment of stars or planets. Once there, getting out can be just as difficult.
All easy Gates to the Beyond seem to share the same drawback of being one-way tickets.
Tourist's Guide to Hell
It helps to be a little crazy when going in.The Beyond is home to countless beings, from demons to self-proclaimed gods, to elemental spirits and the utterly alien. Few are friendly - many horrors nest here between incursions to the mortal plane, such as vampiric broods or the fae's Wild Hunt. It is a small favor that the more powerful being of the Beyond rarely seem to have much interest in the Prime; either finding that there is nothing for them there, or that its wonder-starved reality would leave them greatly diminished should they visit.
Others have no such qualms, and find the concept of gates and keys to be quaint, mortal concepts unworthy of them.
Magic is unpredictable in the Beyond, often growing well out of its users control. There's enough energy there to power any spell imaginable, but few can manage the flood of raw power that comes with it. Knowing the rules of the local reality is crucial to casting any spell, or it doesn't even need to backfire to have disasterous effect.
Technology is no more reliable, often functioning according to the user's most deeply held misconceptions about it.On the other hand, the abundance of energy makes it an ideal place for ritual, if its many dangers can be bested. Such rites are rich sources of ambition, glory, or desperation, and draw the denizens of the Beyond like moths to a flame. Still, some are willing to risk all in their pursuits, and some magic can be worked nowhere else.
WalkersWizards and witches who make it their calling to travel between planes and unlock their secrets are called Walkers. If there ever was a fool who would gladly head into the Beyond with little more than a vague idea and a can-do attitude, it would be them. Why they walk between worlds varies between each Walker - power, discovery, a search for the truth, an addiction to danger; all things found in the Beyond.
PrimeOur world - youtube, cars, shitty politicians, you know the deal. Compared to the Beyond, it's a grey and dreary world, where magic flows not in rivers but gathers in shadows and pools in places of power. On the plus side, it has a lot fewer monsters around, unless you count the ones in suits.
Gods of the BeyondThough none are recognized from any mortal religion, there are creatures with enough power and influence to call themselves God in the Beyond. These entities are as much part of the Beyond as the ground and air, woven into the fabric of its reality. The mad and desperate sometimes offer them worship, and some of these gods are developing a taste for it.
Something of concern to certain Spooks, who like the world the way it is - easily manipulated to their needs.
PactsPacts are binding agreements between a mortal and magic entity, offering power in exchange for... Something. Demons almost always barter for souls or pieces of them, but other spirits have different needs and alien desires.
Rarely are they pleasant.To some, making a deal with a devil is worth any risk. If a god can't be summoned to the Prime, then the only choice left is to visit them. Such trips to the Beyond, guided by strong wills, tend to be especially turbulent, and test those who embark on them before they even sign the dotted line.