Ancient One (Yao)

YaoAncient One

Yao has embodied many names and titles over his centuries-long life, but the one that stuck was the Ancient One, Sorcerer Supreme.



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Born in the 1430s, Yao studies sorcery at Kamar-Taj alongside fellow villager Kaluu. After Kaluu seeks power and seizes control of Kamar-Taj, Yao dedicates his life to fighting evil sorcerers. He is the Ancient One, one of the most powerful sorcerers in existence and trains Dr. Stephen Strange, AKA Doctor Strange.


A Costumed Protector

Born in the 1430s, Yao, the man later known as the Ancient One, acts as the Spirit Leopard, costumed protector of Lang Kah, the Tibetan village where he lives with his wife Leung and works as an apprentice doctor.

A year or two later, he relocates deep in the Himalayas to the village of Kamar-Taj, where he studies sorcery with fellow villager Kaluu, hoping to gain mystic power to better protect the region’s people. Unfortunately, Kaluu seeks power for its own sake; having earlier allied himself with the vampire lord Varnae, he seized control of Kamar-Taj in the early 1450s, hoping to build an empire. Opposing Kaluu, Yao inadvertently creates a pestilence that wipes out Kamar-Taj. Kaluu flees to the dimension of Raggadorr, and Yao, horrified by these events, dedicates his life to fighting evil sorcerers.


The Most Powerful Sorcerer

The Ancient One is one of the most powerful sorcerers in existence. Like most sorcerers, he draws his power from three primary sources: the invocation of powerful mystic entities or objects, the manipulation of the universe’s ambient magical energy, and his own psychic resources. He is capable of astral projection, thought projection, and mental possession with a range of power encompassing the entire Earth. He can project and manipulate numerous forms of mystic energy to transform, animate, levitate, or otherwise alter physical objects.

He can teleport, cast illusions, project light or darkness, and travel to other dimensions and time eras, among many other feats. As a spirit form, he retains a measure of his former might, and he can conceivably harness the power of Eternity itself to augment his abilities on an unimaginable level.

He possesses vast mystical knowledge as a result of several lifetimes’ worth of study and experience. Throughout most of his life, he was an exceptional athlete and martial artist, but in his extreme old age he was unable to perform major physical or mystical feats without incurring great stress. While alive, he utilized various mystic artifacts, most now in Doctor Strange’s possession.

As the Spirit Leopard, he wears claw-like knives on his hands.


Dark Magic Doers

The Ancient One often goes up against evil sorcerers, demons, and powerful beings that seek to harm Earth, including one of his most prominent foes, Dormammu, ruler of the Dark Dimension. Another foe, the demon Shuma-Gorath attempts to enter Earth’s dimension but is stopped by the Ancient One who sacrifices himself to prevent the demon’s invasion.

A couple of the Ancient One’s disciples end up straying from his tutelage and turning to dark magic, including Mr. Jip and Baron Karl Amadeus Mordo, AKA Baron Mordo. Mordo ends up leaving the Ancient One to pursue more power to slay him for choosing fellow student Doctor Strange to succeed him as Sorcerer Supreme.


Mystical Allies

The Ancient One allies himself with extradimensional rulers, or Lords of the Netherworlds, as well as Eternity, who gives him the Eye of Agamotto, a mystical amulet. When The Ancient One’s body dies, his spirit merges with Eternity and he continues to exist in astral form.


Long-Lived History

Soon after, Yao, now known simply as the Mystic, took another young man, later known as Mr. Jip, as a disciple but subsequently banished him for practicing dark rituals. Discouraged by this incident, the Mystic set out on travels elsewhere in Asia, and he clashed with the demon Xorak in Korea. It is not known how long the Mystic’s travels lasted or where else they took him, but he eventually joined an ancient order of benevolent sorcerers whose most accomplished members were known as Ancient Ones. He continued his studies there and eventually exceeded the magical skills of his fellows.

By 1666, over 200 years old but with his aging process greatly slowed by magic, he had risen to the status of Sorcerer Supreme, protector of Earth’s dimension, and he discovered an incursion by Dormammu, ruler of the Dark Dimension. Seeking to add Earth to his domain, Dormammu was forced back by the Mystic at the British site of Stonehenge. Dormammu never forgave the defeat and became a sworn enemy of the Mystic, clashing with him several times over the centuries, at one point casting a weakening spell upon him which periodically affected him until shortly before his death.

Soon after earning his Sorcerer Supreme title, the Mystic accepted as a servant a descendant of the Chinese monk and warrior Kan, whose family had been dedicated to service to the Sorcerer Supreme since the 10th century; subsequent descendants assumed this role throughout the Mystic’s life. At some point he banished the demon race of Dykkors to the Realm Unknown, leaving even the likes of Dormammu to believe them destroyed, and allied himself with some of the extradimensional rulers known as the Lords of the Netherworlds, whose domains he protected from Dormammu.

At some point in his career, the Mystic met with Eternity, embodiment of the universe’s life-force, who presented him with the Eye of Agamotto, one of three mystic amulets originally wielded by Agamotto of the Vishanti, the vastly powerful entity who had acted as the Earth dimension’s first Sorcerer Supreme. Although Eternity came into being billions of years before the Earth itself, the Mystic was apparently the first human in Earth’s history to directly encounter him, a measure of the Mystic’s power and talent. Soon after acquiring the Eye, the Mystic used it to defeat the Harvestor of Eyes Cult, which was dedicated to killing Agamotto’s followers. In the course of his duties, the Mystic sometimes traveled to other dimensions and eras, occasionally spending centuries in such locales before returning to his native place and time mere moments after he had left it. During one such 19th century excursion, he traveled to Babylonia circa 4000 BC to obtain the powerful mystic tome known as the Book of the Vishanti. Another trip took him back many millennia further, well before recorded history, where he fought and banished the chaotic sorceress Morwen.

Circa the late 1680s, the Mystic was, under unrevealed circumstances, apparently challenged for the role of Sorcerer Supreme by Reverend Hiram Shaw, an American colonist who himself fought Dormammu; however, despite acting as Earth’s protector, Shaw was nowhere near as benevolent as the Mystic and used his power to gain political prestige by persecuting witches. The Mystic soon reclaimed his title, presumably by force. In the late 18th century, he apparently fought two violent and powerful sorcerers, the cannibalistic Mauvais in France and the mass-murdering Somnambulist in North America. He condemned both evildoers to gruesome fates, perhaps indicating his growing impatience with those who abused their talents for sorcery. At times he also occupied himself with more earthly evils, and in the 1870s he was active against enforced prostitution in New York City, where he encountered Dr. Matt Masters, AKA the Black Rider, with whom he and others later shared a bizarre but undescribed adventure. In the late 1890s, the Atlas Foundation enlisted him to free their royal advisor, the dragon named Mr. Lao, from a genie’s bottle in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. During this mission, he turned a ship-wrecking Siren to a more peaceful path by cleansing her soul, and over 50 years later she took the identity of the goddess Venus. Eventually the Mystic took up residence in a sanctum built on the former site of Kamar-Taj.

In 1939, the Mystic, having by now lived through several millennia of life in other dimensions and known by his defunct order’s title of the Ancient One, recognized the need to pass on his knowledge, and he took as a disciple Baron Mordo whose potential for evil he hoped to curb, as he had failed to do with Mr. Jip long before. Soon afterward, however, Mordo, learning that not he but an American boy named Stephen Strange was destined to succeed the Ancient One, bedeviled the youth with demons, although the Ancient One prevented them from doing serious harm.

Later, in 1943, Mordo sacrificed his own mother and grandfather to Dormammu, and the Ancient One, fearing that Mordo’s power rivaled his own, realized his need for a successor was greater than ever. Feigning ignorance of Mordo’s true evil, he allowed him to remain his disciple, and both men continued to observe Stephen Strange’s life; however, the Ancient One’s concern over Mordo did not blind him to other threats, and in 1944 he aided noted soldier Nick Fury and costumed hero Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, against their Nazi nemesis, Johann Shmidt, AKA the Red Skull, who had formed a brief alliance with Dormammu.

At some point during the next decade, in the guise of the High Lama, the Ancient One tested his ability to awaken another’s dormant power by, as a stopgap while waiting for Strange, activating latent mystic potential in psychiatrist Dr. Anthony Druid, AKA Doctor Druid, who used his new powers to become a mystic consultant and costumed hero in the USA, where he eventually founded the Monster Hunters. On another occasion, he saved the life of a minor adept named Sen-Yu, whose powers were insufficient to allow him to become the Ancient One’s disciple, but Sen-Yu nevertheless devoted his life to the Ancient One by managing the material wealth the aged sorcerer had acquired over the centuries.

Later, in the early 1960s, the Ancient One was at last visited by Stephen Strange, who had become a surgeon and who, his career ruined by nerve damage and his own arrogance, now sought treatment for his ailing hands, unaware of the true destiny he had come to meet. Well aware that Strange was destined to be the Ancient One’s successor, Mordo stepped up plans to destroy his mentor before Strange could become his student. Strange learned of Mordo’s treachery and, ironically, resolved to learn sorcery in order to defeat him. The Ancient One, who had known of Mordo’s intentions all along, accepted Strange as a disciple in the tradition of both the Sorcerer Supreme and his ancient order of sorcerers. Accepting his mentor’s wish to keep Mordo in check, Strange studied alongside Mordo for years before the latter departed to pursue greater power in Transylvania. Strange himself eventually returned to the USA and, like Druid before him, embarked on a career of consultation and heroism.

In subsequent years, the Ancient One continued to advise Strange as necessary, although he was a near-invalid by that time. Tended by the last of his servants, Hamir, he occasionally aided his successor against Mordo, Dormammu and other threats, including his one-time

ally Kaluu. When the demon Shuma-Gorath threatened to rise anew in the Earth dimension, the Shadowmen of Kaa-U captured the Ancient One and brought him to the tomb of his ancient order, where his former peers had preceded him in death long before. When Shuma-Gorath sought to enter the Earth dimension via the Ancient One’s mind, he prompted Strange to kill his physical body rather than allow Shuma-Gorath passage; with his mentor’s death, Strange took the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme for himself, having achieved in mere decades the skill and power it had taken the Ancient One almost

two centuries to reach. Although physically dead, the Ancient One’s consciousness survived, merging with Eternity. The Ancient One has since manifested in astral form in both the present and the past for various purposes.

The Pitiful One allied with an evil spirit claiming to be the Ancient One, and sometime later, when Doctor Strange falls from grace for using dark magic, the Ancient One’s spirit presents itself to Jericho Drumm, AKA Doctor Voodoo, and his spirit brother Daniel, by way of the Eye of Agamotto. He gives the title of Sorcerer Supreme to Jericho. When Doctor Strange continued to defend Earth without using dark magic, the Ancient One gave him the Eye of Agamotto and title back.

When Earth faced an invasion by the interdimensional Empirikul army and destroyed almost all magic, Doctor Strange and his allies attempted to recover any and all artifacts in the world that still contained magic. The Ancient One’s skull was one such artifact and it was found in a Tibetan temple. Doctor Strange ground it up into a dust and used it to blind the Imperator, the Empirkul’s leader.

Despite becoming one with the cosmos, when the universe is in deadly danger, the Ancient One returns to help Strange fight a terrible menace, but not by choice. Upon meeting Doctor Strange in corporeal form, he regaled his tale of being pulled from the Astral Plane and his knowledge of magic forcibly extracted from an unknown user well-schooled in the mystic arts. Strange found this mystery sorcerer and it turned out to be the dread Dormammu. Strange then retaught his former teacher the way he once bestowed knowledge upon him. After regaining his knowledge, the Ancient One helped defeat Dormammu. The Ancient One then invited Strange’s librarian Zelma Stanton to create a library from his mystical knowledge so that it couldn’t be lost or stolen again.

Not long following this encounter, the Ancient One lent his renewed knowledge to Strange’s Strange Academy, where he taught magically-inclined students in the class dubbed the History of Mystical Objects.


5’ 11”


160 lbs.






Bald with white beard, formerly black

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