"Daimones" are non-corporeal consciousnesses that get bonded to specific humans as their hosts, becoming incarnates.
At the source of the incarnates' powers lies the pantheon of gods, demons, and monsters spoken of in legends the world over. Yet these are not divine beings to be worshiped, nor are they unidentified life forms. Their existence stems from the very belief humans have placed in them over the ages: abstract concepts gradually rectified into fixed, spiritual forms. As long as humanity exists to carry on these concepts, the power they hold continues to grow. Incarnate researchers have termed these beings "daimones."
Originally a Greek word for the divine, the term was first applied to these beings by Dr. Balzac, an early frontrunner in incarnate research. Also notable as the first human to attempt direct communication with a daimon, he left a profound legacy via his work in the field, even as it earned him an eccentric reputation among his less visionary contemporaries.
As oral histories, written legends, and illustrations are passed down through generations, the image they instill in those untold numbers of human minds is refined and built up until the daimon emerges as an autonomous entity of raw information. As a result of this unique genesis, they are in a constant process of evolution, taking influence from shifts in cultural and religious views throughout history. While the swift pace of scientific progress in recent centuries temporarily eroded the mind-share devoted to these mystical beings, the recent flourishing of media consumption has provided them a new stage in the form of literature, theater, and--beginning with the 20th century--films, video games, and more. While it is thought that several generations' time is required for such paradigm shifts to bring about visible changes in a daimon, the Earth's population has grown exponentially in the modern era. Despite the casualties caused by recent natural disasters, more humans live today than ever before, and their minds have been drawn to these mythic figures at an unprecedented rate. This has allowed a proportionally faster rate of evolution among daimones, making the possibility of dramatic changes in the near future very real.
Appearance of an daimon
Incarnate powers manifest in a variety of visibly distinct forms. Research on the matter has divided them roughly into three types: transform, deuteros, and servant-master. Some individuals exhibit profound specialization, while in other cases multiple types may exist concurrently in some form.
Imagine your reaction if one day a close friend or family member suddenly became the unthinking servant of a stranger. Few things can rival the deep psychological horror provoked by that concept. At present, there are no official reports of incarnates able to control conscious organisms such as living humans. Yet it remains one of the powers most feared--and desired--by the world's governments. The fact that no public record exists of such an incarnate strongly implies that all such cases have been kept heavily classified. Though it may smack of conspiracy theorism, such an ability's implications for reconnaissance and assassination would make such top-secret treatment inevitable.
Through phenomena such as the placebo effect (wherein patients given a fake drug report actual benefits), the concept of mind over matter has long had some scientific basis. Shapeshifting abilities of this class are believed to stem from a similar mechanism, applied at the level of an incarnate and daimon's extreme willpower. Specifics vary: individuals may sprout wings or a tail, additional limbs, or a second head. The physical capabilities these new forms confer are themselves a form of superpower.
Because the incarnate's unique mental image of their daimon plays a major role in determining the form they take, transformations may deviate in appearance from the traditional image painted by legends.
The user conjures an avatar which they are then able to freely control. Believed by most to be an extreme version of the Third Man syndrome, in which people report seeing hallucinations of another person during traumatic situations, incarnates are able to cause the image they hold of their daimon to manifest physically. As before, the specifics of the avatar's form are determined more by the unique mental image of its incarnate than by convention, so a daimon's appearance may deviate from standard depictions. Most deuteros appear at the incarnate's side, but exceptions do exist in which they manifest at remote locations.
Named for the Greek word for "second," these avatars represent a second self for their wielder.
A rare class of abilities, with fewer documented cases than transform or deuteros type incarnates.
This is similar on some levels to the deuteros class, though instead of conjuring an avatar from raw thought, servant-masters are able to manipulate existing objects. Examples have included clumps of earth, water or other liquids, and even the corpses of living things. In these cases, the controlled objects are referred to as "servants."
Though they are thought to be a form of telekinesis, in some cases servants appear to exhibit autonomous thinking.