The Attuned and the Red Sigil:
While superhero mages tend to fall into a few general categories, there are countless types of magic in the galaxy, including some odd outliers that are difficult to classify. A few theorists even claim that there are as many types of magic as there are mages, because no two mages’ spells are exactly alike. The Justice‘s meritocratic culture has meshed well with these various magical traditions over the centuries, spawning numerous organizations of mages ranging from groups of a few friends to massive institutions.
Even in the 25th century, old-fashioned witch and wizard outfits remain popular among mages.
By far the largest of these is the Attuned, a general-purpose faction that welcomes all citizens who are mages, or who wish to learn magic. As a result, the Attuned are a diverse group, with many low-level practitioners who know a few spells and have some capabilities, but are not yet individually powerful. While membership is not required, most mages join for access to the Attuned organization’s research archives, lucrative trade contacts for magical items, and extensive mentorship and jobs programs. Since magic is primarily a learned set of skills, the Attuned are notable for their extreme emphasis on hard work and constant practice to the exclusion of everything else, with a great deal of respect and authority given to those who have “earned it” through years or decades of toil. Most, though not all, mages become reclusive and antisocial over time to meet the organization’s expectations.
The Attuned have such a powerful influence on magical learning and practices aboard the ship that it is common to refer to all mages and magical items as Attuned – the theory goes that mages have to work hard to attune themselves to the magic inherent in the universe, while magical items are attuned enough that anyone can use a little magic through them… until they break from the stress of such use. Magical items are a major export of the Justice, and the demand for them is so high that the more experienced mages in the Attuned have access to immense wealth just from being able to make and sell more of them. It is entirely possible that the Attuned could pool enough money to buy their own, smaller ship, if they really wanted to – but the vast majority are happier living on the Justice instead, and the small minority who truly want to leave often do so.
Hidden within the ranks of the Attuned is a shadowy cult known as the Red Sigil. Its leaders seek to replace the leadership of both the Attuned faction and the Justice as a whole, using the justification that mages are natural rulers, and that most of the ship’s budget should be spent on training and equipping more of them. The Red Sigil’s plan is for the most powerful mages to replace superheroes as the first line of defense against all other threats, and also as the leadership cadre of the Justice. While their methods are undeniably evil, attacking innocents and treating their low-ranking members as expendable cannon fodder, Red Sigil members see themselves as good guys who are making the hard choices that heroes like Ambassador won’t.
The Red Sigil’s Emblem.
The name Red Sigil refers to the number 2 written in blood or red ink. This symbolizes the organization’s belief that mages should never be second to anyone, and the fact that they are second in the ship’s governance structure is worth spilling blood over. Red Sigil mages are also rumored to trade extensively with criminal smugglers, illegally selling dangerous and shoddily-produced magic items to planets the ship visits without regard for the consequences – expect more on that when we discuss interstellar economics and smugglers.
The Attuned hate Prometheans. Mercenaries just want to get paid.
The Attuned have a close and friendly relationship with the Mercenary Council; mercenaries are willing to do tedious and unpleasant work for money, while many mages have the egos and the money to hire mercs for tasks ranging from acquiring components, to acting as bodyguards or even a mage’s private army, to directly attacking the mage’s enemies. Both groups accept that mages will use mercenaries as expendable muscle, and that they will simply pay a higher price the more mercenaries are killed in the process. In turn, mercenary groups sometimes recruit fledgling mages who are not yet powerful enough to produce magic items, and those recruits are treated well; the ones who live are likely to become future clients, after all.
“I get a bonus for this, right?”
The mages of the Attuned hate the Prometheans above all others, and this antagonism is reciprocated. The Attuned fundamentally like the ship as it is. Even the Red Sigil only want to seize control of the ship’s political system and revenues; they would be happy to have super-powered subordinates if they could effect a coup. The Prometheans want to wipe out the supers, restrict magic to a single type, forcibly convert all mages to cyborgs, and imprint the insane views and dangerous powers of Dr. Cornish onto all of the Attuned – and when Dr. Cornish complains about abusive, egotistical heroes, he often cites famous mages as examples. Philosophically, the Attuned are all about hard work and respect for a meritocratic elite, while the Prometheans are all about reckless innovation and a deceptive brand of populism. The Attuned and the Prometheans are a rare example of factions so hostile that they will continue fighting each other even in life-threatening situations like Nagdellian invasions; in fact, each group will try to help the invaders in killing the other, when they get a chance.