I have a story set in an alternate version of 1998 USA where nearly every single mythical humanoid humanity has ever believed in actually does exist (or used to before going extinct) and lives in secret among humanity. They are collectively known as "immortals", due to their eternal youth and immunity to disease. While individual humans do know that immortals exist, broader society must not be allowed to learn of, and believe in, their existence. This "Veil of Ignorance", as it's called, is enforced by a group known as the Veilkeepers, members of an immortal species with great power over the human memory, who patch up secrecy leaks as they occur and punish the offenders with death.

Beyond this, however, the Veilkeepers have very few rules, and every single one of the few rules they do have is focused on making sure immortals aren't discovered. They don't actually dictate or enforce any rules against crimes like theft or murder, especially not against other immortals. As a result, immortals have had to take it upon themselves to enforce order, and have formed assorted "clans" who control varying amounts of territory and have their own laws they expect immortals who live in their territory to follow.

There is a problem, however: the mechanics of it aren't fully understood, but the process of using magic seems to produce something that for the purposes of this question I shall call "felltale radiation". And during every full moon, at the instant when the moon reaches peak fullness, time stops for 24 hours for every non-magical creature, and excess felltale radiation seems to produce dangerous monsters known as felltale during this period, which hunt down and kill any immortals they can. If the felltale get too numerous or too strong, there will almost assuredly be casualties among the immortals during this "moontime". Felltale radiation can only be dissipated by the passive presence of humans within approximately 10 miles, and as a result, it's been worked out that the immortal population needs to stay beneath roughly 1 in 1,000 humans in order to avoid having to fight the felltale on a monthly basis.

There are two major takeaways from this:

1: Clans need to expand their territory if they want to be able to survive having more members. Otherwise, they'll be subject to violent monthly culls. As a result, they're frequently incentivized to have behind-the-scenes "wars" with neighboring clans, usually during the full moon when they don't have to worry about humans watching.

2: Clans trying to control territory have an inherent homefield disadvantage. Visitors can bring in much larger numbers of immortals than a location can normally withstand in order to take out the immortals living there, whereas the people on the defensive have to make sure they'll be able to survive within the territory they control once the full moon comes, and thus can't do much to fortify its defenses with long-term reinforcements.

And this second issue only gets more severe the less densely populated the area is. Places that are more densely populated by humans, like cities for example, allow a larger amount of continuous immortal presence, and thus are more easily defensible by the clans that inhabit them because amassing the numbers necessary to take over is a much bigger undertaking. Less densely populated places, places that perhaps can only support an immortal or two per square mile, would be things that any clan that has control of so much as a single city could amass the numbers to conquer with ease.

This makes me suspect that clan territory control would be almost exclusively focused on cities, while more suburban or rural areas would largely be volatile frontier that no organized clan would try to secure an active presence in. But I want to run this past here first to make sure I'm not missing anything.

Given the system and limitations outlined above, would immortal clans have any methods of holding on to less densely-populated territory?

  • $\begingroup$ You write the ratio to avoid the felltale is "roughly 1 in 1,000". What is the ratio of immortals to humans now, globally and in the story area? $\endgroup$
    – user91641
    Dec 5, 2021 at 8:47
  • $\begingroup$ Globally I'd say 1 in 1,000 is a pretty safe bet. Some places let it get a little higher, small towns I'm thinking would want a buffer against unwelcome visitors they may not have the resources to repel, so they keep it lower, perhaps at 2/3 capacity. $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2021 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand the reason to expend resources and effort to control sparsely-settled territory. Also, some conflicts are successfully won using intrigue and bribery and sex instead of broadswords. Cheaper and easier to keep quiet. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Dec 6, 2021 at 1:43
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 Well, that depends on how difficult it actually turns out to be, which is what I'm trying to gauge. If someone comes up with a really simple, easy answer, then I guess it would be worth a clan's time and there would be more small towns under clan control rather than it mostly being a covert wild west. $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2021 at 2:07

2 Answers 2


Have internet clans

While in the past immortals would not be able to coordinate well, in the modern day we have technology.

So, rural places can simply have people who are linked via the internet and radio.

They may squabble because of their distance, but if a city group rolls in to try and conquer them, they can form up and use their homefield advantage to lock them down.

In cities, no one is surprised at a bunch of outsiders rolling in. The population density makes it impossible to spy. Rural areas are a lot more watchful about outsiders, which means an immortal who is locked into the local gossip network can spot raids a lot more easily.

Have city pals.

City clans need ways to dissipate their excess populations. They can ally with rural clans to do so. They might dispatch a person or two there, when a spot is freed up, and in return when called they can go to war.

Use guns

Open carry in cities is generally a lot harder. In rural areas it's common to handle pests. This gives rural people more room to be prepared for violence.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer, but given their distance from each other, they wouldn't be able to be organized that quickly (except for those that can fly or run really fast). In addition, given that these wars aren't fought with huge armies with spears and shining armor, it's not that easy to see a raid coming. So, it's arguable if these immortals would be able to ever respond to an invasion before being conquered separately. $\endgroup$
    – A. Kvåle
    Dec 6, 2021 at 1:03
  • $\begingroup$ As I noted in my answer, rural people are often suspicious of outsiders, so you get more advance warning of a foreigner coming with violent intent than you do in urban areas. Also, cars let you drive quickly, and there's less gridlock in urban areas. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Dec 6, 2021 at 12:21


/the people on the defensive have to make sure they'll be able to survive within the territory they control once the full moon comes, and thus can't do much to fortify its defenses with long-term reinforcements./

Not so! Long term fortifications are idea for both circumstances!

Your immortals living out in the boonies live in fortified enclaves. The fortifications are good against monthly aggressors as well as infrequent incursions by immortals, FBI or what have you. Also it takes a certain kind of immortal to be interested in that kind of life. They like the monthly fight and they are good at it. The supernatural aggressors though never seem to up their game... These are interesting places from a weapons and tech standpoint, with obsolete heavy weaponry gathering dust and supplanted by the newest tech. An Apple II+ is still in charge of the remote sensing. A decommissioned railgun is still on the roof (they got something better).


hiding in safe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08ewFhUjbHY From the movie Looper. There is a little kid, and he can be dangerous. His mom keeps a big safe handy to hide in.

So too your immortal. This one is a loner, or maybe 2 that keep company. They do not fight. They hide and ride out the 24 hours. The safe method could work. Or there are other places that an immortal might while away 24 hours.


Time stops for everything but the immortals and spooky stuff that manifests to hunt them. If I lived in the boonies and I knew scary stuff was going to show up, I would leave. I know where the normal people live. I know time is going to stop for them. I can just walk in, lie on their couches, try on their clothes, play their video games. In exchange I clean their place up, which makes them wonder. Or I catch an overnight plane flight. Will a fell beast manifest in the plane at 30,000 feet where I am riding with 300 normies? I might take a nap in the aisle while time was stopped, just to stretch out.


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