Modern day Thunderbird Province is the most inclusive and accepting among Wizard Cultures in North America, despite being highly racially charged in the 19th and early 20th centuries, much like the Mundane culture that surrounds it.  The majority of mages who can trace their lineage to Asian magical cultures in North America reside in this province.  Mainstream provincial culture is largely driven by the four main population centers, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco, but hidden enclaves abound in the high deserts, mountains and valleys, on the many coastal islands, and in the frozen tundra to the north.  Politically, it’s the most liberal of the Provinces, much to the frustration of the Traditionalists of Destiny and Solaris, and provoking a rivalry with Mishipeshu to the east.

Wizards in Thunderbird tend to be judged by what lasting contributions they have made to the Magimundi, and not necessarily by how much Leeuwendaalders they command. Wizards are respected for their frugality rather than their ostentatious display of wealth, and many Magimundi recycle or upcycle castoff Mundane items into new and unique fashion and artificery. Freecycle caches abound and you’re more likely to gain credibility for wearing used and vintage robes and items than to have had to stoop to purchase something new. Wizards here tend to be quirky and connected to nature, seeking to live in harmony with the flora, fauna, and the mundane humans with whom they are inextricably connected. There’s a robust community of philanthropists, and the Magimundi Headquarters of the United Cinnabar Societies is located on Maury Island in the Puget Sound, along with other ecological and social welfare organizations that seek to ensure a level of comfort and compassion for all beings. It is the greatest crime for someone’s cries to go unheard, to turn one’s back on a human — magical or mundane — a creature, or a crisis. Wizards in Thunderbird will open their doors to strangers and generally are a hospitable, giving, and trusting sort. The detriment of living in fear and despair is far greater than the occasional risk of someone betraying the open kindness and trust.

There are ancient rivalries between the the magical creature Mishipeshu, or water panther, who ruled the waters of the Great Lakes and the rivers of the plains, and its nemesis, Thunderbird, who flies over the mountains of the Northwest, bringing storms and fire from the sky. These arcane conflicts continue to be played out on a political scale between the provinces of the same names. For example, on October 11, 1972, the Mishipeshu Provincial region surrounding the city of Denver declared itself to be part of Thunderbird Province.  Citing a cultural shift and rather pointed differences of opinion between regional justices, the declaration challenged the uneasy peace among the five provinces.  Intense negotiation between Justices took place, and on January 1, 1974, the Edict of Reallocation made the change official, placing the Denver area, including Boulder and Colorado Springs, in the Thunderbird Province. Though Mishipeshu province was granted considerable concessions, including another 500 years of taxed Leeuwendaalders from the Denver region, the entire incident is still considered to be a humiliating black eye on the Mishipeshu Province, and the rivalry between Thunderbird and Mishipeshu Province remains acrimonious.This extends all the way to the Council of Five, where Thunderbird Arch Justice Fidelia Windwalker is frequently at odds with Mishipeshu Arch Justice Montgomery McBride. It is rumored that some of their rivalry is more performance than perfidy as the two are often seen amicably socializing, but as representatives of their respective provinces their constituents’ interests must be kept at the forefront.   

The Province is quite diverse with large pockets of wizards from many Asian cultures, with Japanese, Chinese and Filipino being the most represented. There is also a substantial number of Magimundi who trace their heritage to British, German, Ukrainian, and old Norse cultures. Some of these communities are quite insular, so some magical traditions from the Old World have survived nearly unadulterated, though others have developed a unique Thunderbird slant based on the exposure to other traditions.

When U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 on February 19, 1942, the Wizard Janice Maeda, an influential activist, declared that she would not stand idly by as the Mundane Government of the United States and Canada prepared to relocate and detain Japanese American citizens in internment camps. Declaring that the Edict of Mundane Separation and Secrecy was inviolate, most provincial Magimundi looked the other way, electing not to intervene despite the abominable conditions at the camps. In defiance of provincial authorities, Janice Maeda said “I do not wish to live in a world that will tolerate this atrocity” and set upon a course to confront Mundane army officials and thwart the enactment of the order. On March 24th, Janice Maeda hand-delivered a letter to Arch Justice Windwalker declaring her intention to assassinate Mundane General John L. DeWitt if he issued Civilian Exclusions Orders to the Japanese American Citizens on Bainbridge Island.  Against the pleas of officials not to intervene and risk exposure of the Magimundi, Janice Maeda traveled to Bainbridge Island, where she was fatally wounded by spells cast by Marshals later that morning. DeWitt’s orders were issued without interference.  Reports of the activist’s death proved to be incendiary, with the majority of students at Lewis and Clark leaving the school in protest the following day.  For the next three years, Thunderbird Province found itself in a crucible of distrust and suspicion with its community openly challenging the Province Justices and Fonctionnaires, often shouting the popular chant, “Are your eyes open?!?” a direct accusation of “turning a blind eye” toward the injustice.   It is widely considered that it was at this point that Thunderbird Province’s values began to shift towards the liberal end of the political spectrum, further than the Mundane World culture at the time with regard to equality and inclusion.

In the 1990s, mysterious incidents began to take place in Thunderbird Province, and an investigation began.  Among incidents of violence in popular nightclubs with confused witnesses, property destruction in warehouses or other thought-to-be-vacant structures, incidents of arson in business and residential districts, and finally the complete demolition and structural collapse of West Point Sewage Treatment Plant brought the full attention of the Thunderbird Province Marshals. It was discovered that two factions of vampires who resided within the Province had an escalating conflict that was starting to spiral out of control. It appeared to have originally been a cold-war type of conflict, but had now become cases of overt warfare, that was starting to impact bystanders with no small amount of collateral damage. Province officials and Justices assembled, and it was decided that the vampires displays of supernatural powers in their conflict could potentially damage the secrecy of the Magimundi, and action would have to be taken.  During this discussion, Marshal investigators Mary and Morris Hayes who were observing several vampires in a keep-the-peace operation were attacked by one faction, who then rather clumsily tried to fabricate evidence that the rival faction was responsible. Mary died as a result of her injuries, and Morris was disfigured permanently.

Marshals from across the Magimundi, incensed that some of their own had been harmed by the vampires, assembled on the Province, and began preparations for war while the Edict of Extermination was proposed among the Council of Five on January 4, 2004.  On January 5th, a single night of intense violence took place, and the vampires engaged in open conflict with each other, almost the entirety of both forces being wiped out in a catastrophic series of defections, double-crossed, and betrayals. Before the Marshals could engage, a very desperate overture of peace was delivered to Thunderbird Arch Justice Fidelia Windwalker.  Vampires that were not involved in the conflict along with the few straggling survivors had been made aware of the Marshals’ eminent attack, and pleaded for mercy, declaring themselves refugees. After an evening of deliberation on January 6th, Arch Justice Windwalker withdrew the Edict of Extermination from consideration of the Council of Five. The remaining vampires of Thunderbird Province would be considered to be members of the Magimundi, and subject to Marshal authority and province laws, an act of kindness that is quite unappreciated by both the Magimundi and the Vampires. Communities of vampires are integrated into Magimundi society in this province, unlike any other province, where they remain separate and also hidden, with more or less acrimonious relationships. A keen interest in certain of these enclaves of vampires began among the Mundane world in 2005, and members of both the vampire and Magimundi communities have had to redouble efforts at secrecy to avoid Mundane pilgrims. Fortunately, the frenzy seems to have peaked by 2012 and shows signs of waning.

The Province has kept alive the tradition of the Chinook Jargon or Chinuk Wawa language, a hybrid language used among various First Nations tribes and later as a trading language among Coureurs de Bois, trappers, traders, and prospectors. It also allowed the North American Giant to converse with Magimundi, particularly as the last Sasquatches fled to the Pacific Northwest after their near extermination in the Magma Wars. Unfortunately the Sasquatch population never recovered and none have been sighted in more than 50 years, prompting the recent official declaration of extinction by Provincial authorities. Today, remnants of Chinuk Wawa remain in popular use among the Magimundi and the Principal of the Province Primaschola is known as the Tyee, friends are tillicum, and if something that is solid, strong, or cool it is said to be skookum, though this last word can also refer to a ghost or evil spirit.

Most well known is the term Cultus Iktus (worthless stuff), which most Wizards of the province use to refer to mundane technology.  In most provinces, mundane technology is considered to be completely unthinkable for inclusion in the Magimundi at all. Even so, Thunderbird Province does feature the most public interest in technology, though mundane tech is generally considered a trivial interest pursued by youth and a few eccentric wizards, tolerated, though with a measure of condescension. Lately, groups of young mages have set up artificery shops in warehouses and basements, and have embraced the Cultus Iktus epithet as a term of power. Refusing to be derided for their proclivities, the Cultus Iktus counterculture openly flaunts mundane tech such as smartphones and proclaims algorithmic programming languages to be a new form of arithmancy. Magic and technology are an unpredictable combination, and interactions between them can be dangerous and difficult to control. Too eager forays into these untested waters is seen as foolhardy at best and downright dangerous by many.

This attitude was bolstered after the experiments of Pileus Tenembrae in the SoMa District of San Francisco in the early 1980s. Tenembrae was an accomplished golem-maker, who had worked mostly in clay, stone, and other natural materials. He began working with metal and then with circuitry and wires and switches in attempts to store magical energies and increase the degree and longevity of his control over what he referred to as Silicon Golems, but were the Magimundi’s first known creation of Homunculi Constructs. The confluence of the magical energies and the electrical surges made them unpredictable, and some believe they developed a kind of para-sapience. Two escaped his warehouse and boarded a ship from Pier 39, where mundane passers-by assumed they were street performers. Tenembrae attempted to intercept them and was injured when he attempted to deactivate them by removing the runic incantation from their throats. Artificiers suspect that the Constructs forced Tenembrae’s own magical energy backward through his brain, causing him to revert to a pre-verbal, simian-like state. Tenembrae is currently living in Swindlehurst Institute for Magical Ailments and Afflictions, and his presence in a room frequently causes any object containing a circuit to malfunction. Tenembrae’s Silicon Golems were never recovered and some believe these Constructs continue to roam the Redwood Forests along the coast, having divined a way to maintain their connection to sustain their magical energies.

The northernmost reaches of Thunderbird Province are occasionally visited by the exceptionally rare and reclusive Snow Dragon.  Based on limited sightings and drawings, Cryptozoologists speculate that the Dragon is native to Siberia, but has a migratory range reaching over the polar region into North America. It’s speculated that global warming and climate change has negatively affected the Snow Dragon’s prosperity, which has contributed to the protectiveness of the reclusive cryptid as well as the emphasis on environmentally safe practices in Thunderbird Province.  Every few years, ambitious Cryptozoologist Wizards will mount an expedition to “recover” the Snow Dragon, but as they head north and leave behind the Provincial Authority of the Provinces, they find the independent communities of Wizards of the northern part of the continent will not offer aid or assistance to anyone who has “taken an interest” in the Snow Dragon. As can be expected, Snow Dragon expeditions are frequently catastrophically disastrous, and many have no survivors.  Among the reported information from the failed missions: Snow Dragons can and will trigger strategic collapsing of the elaborate cave systems that they dig into ice and the frozen ground on trespassers, Snow Dragons will feint attacks on camps, draw out the Wizards, flee, then circle around to steal supplies so that their hunters die of exposure rather than in conflict, Snow Dragons will trigger avalanches, Snow Dragons can alter the lustrousness of their white scales, making themselves virtually undetectable in snow, or blindingly brilliant by reflecting sunlight, and finally that Wizards who make their homes in the extreme northern regions collaborate with the Snow Dragons to thwart the expeditions.  Very rarely, artifacts made from Snow Dragon scales, bones, or teeth, do emerge on the market, though these are believed to come from aging Snow Dragon leavings, and not from any systematic hunting of the creatures.  The true properties of Snow Dragon parts as magical ingredients are unknown or speculative, which rather counter-intuitively increases their market value as potential solutions to problems with existing potion recipes or artifact design, leading to a market saturation of counterfeit Snow Dragon components.

In the northern reaches of the province is Diamantstøv, magical city made of ice and quartz, a mythical place that cannot always be found. It seems that it appears only at certain times, though a pattern has never been discovered. It is a pilgrimage place for Magimundi members, and seeking it is a legendary quest undertaken by the most erudite or desperate wizards. Renowned Magimundi scholars and healers live in Diamantstøv and seekers of secrets of the esoteric and arcane undertake the goal to find it and be accepted by the city. It is conjectured that Diamantstøv travels between the planes of existence and thus is only in this world occasionally. Other than Thurstan Warwick, whose claims were widely discredited, no one has ever returned from Diamantstøv so it is believed that finding it means one never leaves — either by choice or by force. Many claim to glimpse Diamonstøv from the distance, and some associate it with the magic of the Snow Dragon. Wizards who die a noble death are believed to reappear in Diamantstøv, prompting legends that Parthena Cloudborne and Janice Maeda are now citizens of this city. Their spirits are believed to ride along the Northern Lights until they enter the city.

Thunderbird is the seat of crystallography and metallurgy, stemming from the rich deposits in the area and under the tundra to the north. The Province is home to the magical mining industries, and stores of ore for smelting and crafting. This includes precious gems, ores, crystals, stones, and fossils. Since the end of the Magma Wars, generations of legendary crafters and smelters reside in a reclusive community near the summit of Mount Tahoma where they craft the most exclusive metallurgic magical artifacts.  In the early days of the Province, several illegal mining practices were commonly used by less scrupulous wizards, from simply charming an existing group of miners and stealing their ore, to the catastrophic technique of “seismic mining”, deliberately causing an earthquake to reveal ore veins (and often drive off mundane miners.)  In 1853 the Edict of Terrestrial Accountability firmly regulated mining in the Magimundi, though pockets of illegal practices continue to do this day. Thunderbird Province has a persistent poaching problem of the magical creatures native to the province that Marshals have struggled to entirely eliminate in spite of frequent arrests.  Unkind speculation alleges that the poaches are organized in Mishipeshu province, and that its officials offer tacit permission to conduct these poaching raids.  No admissible evidence has emerged to support this allegation.

Most Magimundi in the province are very earthy and in tune with nature, seeking to protect the wild spaces and beautiful vistas, particularly with Ecodefense Magic. A unit of Ecodefense Cryptozoologists have mastered the art of commanding the Wasco, the half-wolf, half-grampus land and sea-dwelling magical creature, to disrupt whaling ships, over-fishing, bottom trawling, and to protect the migratory routes of salmon. Thunderbird Wizards with the highest powers are said to be able to command the Lightning Serpents, much like a Thunderbird itself can do.  Magical energies and spirits course through water, rocks, trees, and other flora, and attunement to nature is a honed talent among Thunderbird Province, with specialized training in fox-walking, tracking, and other mindful activities regularly offered. Wands made from woods in the region are considered very powerful, particularly the Pacific Madrone, which has unique — and slightly unpredictable — quality to it, making it unwieldy to all but the most skilled artificers. With the exception of fallen branches (considered gifts of the tree), harvesting wood for wands and artifacts made from Giant Sequoia and Coastal Redwood are forbidden by Magimundi law. These elder trees are often Oracular, and those with Divination Powers have received prophetic or extra-planar transmissions from them. Furthermore, Sequoia and Redwood are often actually Tamawhim, sentient tree spirits with formidable yet fickle arcane power and those intent upon harming an elder tree face not only legal consequences but the possibility of retaliation by other Tamawhim or unleashing Goblin Ghosts. Inspection of a wand or object will reveal whether the wood was taken from the tree through violence or gifted as the result of limb dropping. A Sequoia or Redwood felled by natural means may be used to create Miwakuzou, or enchanted statues that are often placed in areas of particular magical significance. It is common practice for Thunderbird Magimundi to leave enchanted items at the base of trees, in doorways, at magical shrines, cemeteries, and other significant places to honor deceased relatives and provide protection from malevolent spirits. Salt mined from the Great Salt Lake is ritually used to provide protections, particularly during the Hungry Ghost Festival, when the gates between this world and the world of the dead become fragile.

Totem Poles are a rare but notable artifact in Thunderbird Province.  Magimundi poles are distinguishable from Mundane poles usually by their greater height, and the enchantments to protect the western red cedar wood from age and the elements.  The poles ostensibly depict a story, but usually also contain a hidden message, the most prized discovery being the means to learn the incantation and casting of a spell or ritual.  Because interpreting the story is dependent on a great deal of contextual information, deciphering the hidden message is nearly impossible without having first-hand experience of the particular culture of the community that carved the Totem Pole, and it’s usually reported that it costs less to be have a guide teach you the spell or ritual itself than the means to correctly solve the Totem Pole’s riddle.

 

The School

In the Thunderbird Province, most students attend the Lewis & Clark Institute of Magic, led by current Tyee Phoenix Rising. This primaschola was founded in 1808, after the arrival of the wizard duo, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in 1805, who joined forces with Comcomly, chief of the Chinook, to create the school. It is rumored that Lewis & Clark used divination and arithmancy along their voyage, as well as the journals of New World Magischola co-founder Étienne Brûlé. Some say they had the aid of his magical compass as well, but that has not been confirmed. When they arrived, the Chinook mages were expecting them, having long foreseen a group of travelers bearing furs in their packs and fur upon their faces. Prior to the founding of the formal primaschola, magical education was handled informally by tribal elders.

The school is shrouded in the dense evergreen forests, its buildings covered in thick moss and lichens. It disappears into the natural world around it, and moves its location every year so as not to unbalance the ecosystem with their institutional footprint. Finding one’s way back to school each September can be a bit of an adventure, and school leaders treat it as such — a kind of survival quest to divine the location and navigate there. The school is closed for two weeks annually for Lunar New Year.

The Institute is known for being rather unconventional and earthy, with a very open admissions policy and a friendly relationship with the mundane world. The school’s magical curricula is taught in integrated form, with a lot of hands-on learning to balance magical theory. Lewis & Clark Institute believes that magic can benefit the mundane world, and innovations in permaculture, plant yield, and ecosystem management that were created using magical means have been covertly gifted to mundane scientists to assist with environmental and agricultural problems. Often Magimundi healers work through the network of Mundane Herbalists, Acupuncturists, Homeopaths, energy workers, and permaculturalists to distribute their potions, brews, palliatives, and solutions. Mundanes from all around the area come to Mount Shasta to bottle the mineral waters that flow there, not knowing that the healing comes from the magical residue that Thunderbird Wizards infused into the crystal seams the water flows over.

While some other schools have more conservative opinions about magical creatures sometimes considered dark or inferior, all are welcome at Lewis & Clark. Students at the school tend to fervently support the cause of Chupacabra freedom, believing the practice of farming them and exploiting them as guards for Avernus Prison is illegal and immoral. The school’s curriculum focuses particularly on homeopathic healing and ritual magic, and faculty there also developed the art of Psychoacoustics, which sometimes gets expressed as Music Magic. Recent forays into infusing Psychoacoustics with Mundane amplification systems and electronic components such as wah-wah pedals and auto-tuners have had unpredictable results, usually whimsical. A notable example is lead singer Sylvyr Savchenko’s voice being irrevocably cursed with the throaty ululating growl of a Tufted Puffin. Fratercula bandmates have embraced the new sound and the effects of the Music Magic on fans resulted in a surge in album sales post-Puffin.

A unique recent phenomenon emerging around the school are student clubs whose goal is to reverse engineer mundane technology to examine its potential applications in the Magimundi.  As many know, traditional magic has a destructive effect on electronics, and the clubs are quite divergent with their approach to fix this problem: those who are trying to to create magical artifacts that can perform the same advanced feats of the mundane tech are considered to be rivals with those who are trying to re-engineer spells and enchantments themselves to eliminate the burst of magical energy that appears to wreck electronic devices.  Smaller groups have the lofty goal of finding a way to fully integrate the magical world with advanced technology.  This advancement is not to everyone’s enjoyment.  Seattle-area Justice Ramshorn Torkel, a rather liberal figure on most issues in his region of Thunderbird Province, has vociferously made his disdain for these kinds of innovations known.  The Justice has declared that the polarization of magic and technology is an essential part of the success of the Tradition of Secrecy and that careless innovation that bridges that gap in culture threatens both the Magimundi and the mundane world’s continued to survival.  It is believed that Justice Torkel’s disapproval has kept an official course of study regarding mundane technology from becoming part of the curriculum at Lewis & Clark, though the student led groups have not yet been banned.  

Students at Lewis and Clark are divided into five houses:

  • Ma Jun: Named for the Chinese Artificier from early 3rd century CE, this house emphasizes creativity and innovation.  The house’s culture appeals to the introvert, emphasizing the mental acuity of students and the concrete results of experimentation, and de-emphasizing argument and rhetoric.  The motto is attributed to Ma Jun himself, “Empty arguments with words cannot (in any way) compare with a test which will show practical results.”
  • Comcomly: Named for the Chief of the Chinook Confederacy at the turn of the 19th century, this house emphasizes a stark self reflection and also perceptiveness.  Key to the house’s culture is the idea that a person’s personal narrative about themselves detrimentally affects their ability to accurately perceive all other information.  Since self-deception is so pervasive, the house has a generally cynical culture, though members would insist it’s merely pragmatic.  Their motto, “Distrust the most comforting thought,” while not attributed to Comcomly, is believed to be aligned with the Wizard’s cynical approach to divination and astromancy.
  • Maeda: Named for Janice Maeda, the Japanese American Wizard made famous for her activism and martyrdom in 1943. Maeda’s, activism included demanding inclusion of Wizards of Asian heritage into the Magimundi, as well as objecting to practices and traditions that were dividing the various immigrant magical communities and covertly providing advantage to Wizards of European descent. She is responsible for leading the opposition to the Edict of Mundane Separation and Secrecy during the internment of Japanese American Citizens by the Mundane US Government. The house has embraced Maeda’s outlook on confronting fear in the motto, “Fear is the south pole of my moral compass,” and members are continually trying to find the balance of bravery and bravado, true courage and overconfidence. The culture puts a strong emphasis on physical exercise and its members learning to duel.  While objecting to violence, the house believes that these things prepare the mind to be able to act while confronted by a crisis.
  • Muire: Named for Jeanne Muire, staunch preservationist and environmentalist, who as a student in 1934 had begun the enchantments that allowed the school to easily be relocated every year and did so without permission.  Narrowly avoiding expulsion, she would eventually return as a Professor and when elected Tyee in 1962, completed the work she had begun as a student, completing the ritual that allowed the school to magically travel to it’s new location.  In addition to appealing to environmentalists and nature-lovers, the house culture focused on that of remaining resolute and persisting towards one’s goals.  The house motto, “By all lawful means” which is attributed to Muire, is indicative of their belief that one must work within existing systems to succeed.
  • Windwalker: Named for Arch Justice Fidelia Windwalker, this house was formed at the start of the school year in 2004 specifically for the Vampires that had joined the Magimundi.  As such, its culture is still new, but largely appears to be based on ideals of self restraint and careful consideration of others, and the house specifically welcomes all magical sentient beings that have been accepted into the school. Humans have also joined the house since 2008.

Outside of class time, flannel shirts, beanies, and Birkenstocks abound at the modern day Lewis & Clark, with a hefty dose of asymmetrical bangs, dyed hair-tips, and large-framed glasses with clear lenses. Fashion is described as quirky, colorful and eccentric, with the goal of cultivating a unique style that distinguishes oneself.  Most notable is the student tradition of tying their school ties in the most tortured and ugly knot possible while still being visually identifiable as a tie. This “art” tends to follow the student to their Magischola education, much to the frustration of uniform purists.

Optional Cliques: Vampires, Environmentalists, Political Activists, Psychoacoustic Artists, Metallurgy Enthusiasts, Healing Vocationals