Alright, before I continue with the background information, I just wanted to touch on magic and technomagic.
Magic involves several abilities or talents: shadow walking, spirit summoning, spellcasting, augmentation, and imbuing. (Imbuing is the magical talent of enchanting items, for example to create magical swords, wands, rings, and so forth. Such magicians are called “thaumaturgists”.) These abilities are called “talents” for a reason: they are innate capacities, that you have to train to use effectively. People can be born with them, or can develop their latent talents later, but everyone must learn how to channel them.
When the first vortexes opened up, magic flooded Earth. In its wake, Earthers discovered that they, too, had these innate magical talents. They could train to use them, just like Beyonders.
The other surprise was that magic — the energies of the shadow world — responded to electrical current flowing through a wire. With the right circuits (which make no physical sense), you could even craft electrical or electronic devices (“devisements”) that could create a magical field.
Maguses can cast “flash freeze”, and freeze an opponent. Technomages can do the exact same thing, with the correct devisement.
Creating technomagical devisements takes no innate talent, just a knowledge of the proper mathematics and the ability to solder, wrap wires, and screw together a case. Any mechanic can learn to do it, once they learn how to wire the correct circuits. Blank circuit boards, wire cutters, batteries, and spools of wire are the tools of the technomage.
Here’s the key question, one that baffled Earthers for many years: why does electricity affect magic, while magnetism, heat, kinetic energy, and other phenomenon doesn’t? And why just wired electricity, and not lightning?
Beyonder magics hold the key.
There are three “elements” in Beyonder cosmology: materials such as water, rocks, ores, air, basically anything tangible, energies such as electricity, heat, sound, “force” (or kinetic energy), and ephemera, like the soul, thought, emotions, and magic. These three elements pervade all Beyonder magic.
As an example, all wisps, a Beyonder race, are innately tied to one of the three elements. There are material-aspected wisps, energy-aspected wisps, and ephemera-aspected wisps. Each variety has different abilities, depending on its patron element.
Anthrophagians are people afflicted with a magical curse that forces them to feed on other people. Ghouls feed on the body, they’re aspected towards the material. Vampires feed on the life force of victims; they’re aspected towards energy. And wraiths consume the souls of their victims; their element is ephemera.
The Beyonders arrange the elements in a hierarchy: material -> energy -> ephemera. Energy is “close” to materials and ephemera, and materials and ephemera are “distant”. Thus, it’s easier to create energy with a spell (freezing a target) than it is to create material objects (a chair).
Materials affect energies, energies affect ephemera, but it is very rare for ephemera to affect the material in a lasting way (which is why all spells are temporary) and vice versa. Electricity, on the other hand, is an energy, and it is very common for energies to affect the ephemera.
But why electricity in a wire?
Metals, refined ores, have a special property: they can hold a magical charge better than any other material. This is why there are many different magical ores, why swords and rings are more often enchanted than wooden wands, and why augments have metal laced into their enruned bones (the metal holds the magic).
Electrical energy affects ephemeral magic, when it is flowing along metallic wires. The two phenomena, long known to maguses, work together to form something wholly new. (Beyonders lack the knowledge of electricity and electrical circuits.)
Each of the five talents has manifested in strange ways on Earth. Shadow walkers became crackers, sorcerers became technoshamans. Thaumaturgists enchanted rings and swords over the course of weeks or months, technomages can do the same thing with just some wire and a few batteries, in less than an hour.
Both sides have had to adjust to the new circumstances they find themselves in, and the adjustment has been hard for everyone.