When Elizabeth Tudor succeeded to the throne in 1558, she found herself under assault from all sides, paying for the arrogant machinations of her father.
Henry VIII enraged the Church of Rome and made himself an enemy of Catholicism. But worse, that collapse in solidarity of faith combined with the fanaticism that followed on all sides to root out unbelievers assaulted the strength of belief across Europe. That shift weakened the invisible barrier between worlds.
Opportunity knocked for supernatural entities and practitioners of magick to recover from centuries of passive resistance generated by a wall of blind faith. The mortal population had no way to know of the repercussions, seeing the resurgence of the bugs and Fae as a result of witchcraft, rather than the result of fading tradition.
In 1563, the Queen passed an Act Against Conjurations, Enchantments and Witchcrafts. It muddied the water a bit, making the punishment for particular acts of magic more severe than others, but in many cases drawing the line before a death sentence.
In 1564, John Dee and Francis Walsingham convinced the Queen to pass an amendment to the Act — The Dee Sanction — that permitted the practice of magic in defence of the realm. It supported the potential for those who used their heretical knowledge to work off their sentence in service to Her Majesty. That capacity for reprieve fell within the jurisdiction of Walsingham and Dee. They controlled those fortunate malefactors as Agents, bound to a covert intelligence service.
Throughout the decades that followed — despite both Dee and Walsingham’s apparent rollercoaster ride in and out of favour — this potential for absolution persists. The focus and mission might shift and change, but the goal remains; use magic for the good of the Queen, and you might earn your freedom.
You’re an Agent of Dee; not out of choice, but out of some twisted sense of self-preservation. Somewhere between conscription and penance, you work for Walsingham and Dee to make amends. You have a faint hope that you can use your talents to earn your pardon and absolution.
Those around you know something of your background. You’re not a good person. You have done bad things and been exposed to awful truths. But, you can see light at the end of the tunnel. If only you can outrun the shadows of your past and the horrors of the present…
This is The Dee Sanction.