Magic in Errant Story

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Re: Magic in Errant Story

Postby mindstalk » August 29th, 2009, 2:14 am

Points of inquiry:
what happens when a Tsuirakuan archmage can only levitate for 30 seconds? The flight spell is really hard, like trying to stand on one leg with your eyes closed, and they lose control or get tired to control, as opposed to running out of personal energy to levitate?
What meant that Tsuiraku couldn't dispel Luminosita, but Ianilis could?
What would likely happen to a Veracian baby raised among the elves or in Tsuiraku, and to an elf baby raised by Veracians? Why did Suzie (Polly's daughter) spontaneously see through Sarna's disguise?
Are Tsuirakuans more magical just because they have a better culture and pedagogy, or because of latent half-elf genes boosting their talent, or is that a spoiler for Tsuiraku's history?

I'm guessing the answer to the Veracian among the elves is that she'd have some chance of learning magic -- after all some humans did learn magic before half-elf blood started trickling in. But don't know about the others...

Hmm, Suzie is more interesting than I thought here: from her Wiki page http://www.errantstory.com/wiki/index.php/Suzie
"I think the idea was that the kid was the result of a one night stand her mom (the prostitute from the previous chapter, if no one caught that) had with a Tsuirakuan mage who was in town for the weekend or something like that."
implying a genetic boost, or that Poe was still making shit up on the fly at the time.
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Re: Magic in Errant Story

Postby Imp-Chan » August 29th, 2009, 3:09 am

Drannin wrote:This is a fascinating discussion... it reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine a while back concerning, of all things, genetics.

In the nature vs. nurture debate, a lot of people fail to recognize that it's actually nature AND nurture. In the case of natural talent vs learned skills, some people just have a knack for certain things. Maybe it's just a mind that's able to tune into things, like mentally disassembling an engine piece by piece, or a body that's just well-built for swimming. Some people just have a knack. However, this doesn't mean that these skills are exclusive to a small handful of folks with the right sequence of ACTG's. Pretty much anyone can learn to use a certain skillset, if they work at it hard enough. However, there are a few people who can just do certain things really well.

Put another way, everyone's born with a 'toolbox,' of knacks and aptitudes. How this 'toolbox' is used is basically up to the will of the individual.

Am I in the right ballpark concerning magical ability?


Pretty much dead on.

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Re: Magic in Errant Story

Postby Porcelain Fish » August 29th, 2009, 5:55 pm

My understanding was that Luminosita wasn't so much an actual deity as a construct.

Take the explanation of physics for example. In physics, when you get down to basics - energy is energy, whatever the source or repository.

My understanding of Luminosita was that he was built and created by the Veracian church a looooooooooooooong time ago, a result of them pouring in their own personal energy, perhaps even unknowingly in later generations, vis a vis whatever "prayers" they offered, with the result that Luminosita grew due to the influx of this energy. They became the donors, with Luminosita being the repository of that energy. To my way of thinking it wasn't so much that Ianilis actually "used up" the ambient "firewood" available as he simply broke/released the bonds holding that energy together in a coherent form.

In fact, at the very beginning, Meji was talking about how a Tsuirakuan archmage had attempted to actually draw off some of that energy to steal for himself in order to attain the level of a demigod. (And the spell went haywire due to the interference of the Veracian clergy.)

I guess the point that I'm trying to get at is that from my understanding you can still effectuate magic (as a change in the environment) but it would take more or less energy or different applications of it depending on the circumstances. So, theoretically, the possibility that magic could be used is infinite in any given time/situation, but as you noted, with physics, there are different probabilities of events occurring, with more expenditure of energy being required to execute a result the less likely something is to happen. Obviously, the more practiced the spellcaster, the more efficiently they will be able to use their energy, but the energy required would come from them, not requiring a whole other energy "source" any more than singing would require you to happen to be holding a rock in your hand.

For example - A mage casts a spell on a hill where the air is still to produce a breeze. This is obviously going to take a lot less energy than casting a spell to create a breeze if there is a heavy wind blowing in the opposite direction. Now this doesn't rule out the possibility that there might be some sort of catalyst that could make the task easier, just like in real-world chemistry, but I question the need for a second energy source, unless the spell-caster would be using that energy in lieu of his own.

I mean, you have the energy you put in, and you have the mechanism, and you have the result. With your fire analogy, you have the energy you put in to start the fire, the chemistry mechanism that causes the wood to actually burn, and (provided there's oxygen) the result is heat, light, and carbonized remains.

Instead of having the firewood and oxygen feeding the fire however, you seem to be positing the existence of another sort of fuel altogether necessary purely because it's a “magical” fire, whereas, in my mind (and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this was Impy's point as well) magic is actually simply a tool utilized rather than flint and steel/matches/blowtorch/etc.

For example:

(energy) + (mechanism) + (object acted upon) = (result)

or

(effort) + (matches) + (object acted upon) = (ignition)

or

(effort) + (magic) + (object acted upon) = (ignition)

Now that's a little bit simplified, because obviously I'm leaving out the fact that you have to have the oxygen to feed the fire, but that's part of my point really. It's a lot harder to set a rock on fire, and it might melt rather than burn, but if you have enough energy, you can raise the temperature, even without oxygen. (It's a lot easier to set the wood on fire because it has a lower ignition point obviously.) But the rock or corpse or whatever else you're burning isn't feeding the spell, it's feeding the fire you've started. At that point the magic's done and it's just plain old fire (unless it's a suped-up firebolt packed with an extra punch to bust through a spell-shield, but that's another conversation entirely)

How much energy you have to use to get the result you want and the quality of that result is dependent on how efficient your mechanism (magic) is, which falls into line with a lot of the other allegories used.

I guess what I'm really saying is that magic isn't the fuel, it's the mechanism.
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Re: Magic in Errant Story

Postby Graybeard » August 30th, 2009, 11:26 pm

Porcelain Fish wrote:My understanding was that Luminosita wasn't so much an actual deity as a construct.

Be it noted that in the Reformed Veracian Church (which is purely a construct of the Errant Road game and most certainly does NOT exist in the Poe-verse, unless Poe independently decides it does), there is an alternative interpretation of what Luminosita is all about that will become clear in time. For the moment, suffice it to say that, at least as far as the Luminosita-thing that Ianilis dispelled is concerned, the Reformed people are solidly in your camp ... but in their interpretation, there's more to it than that.
Porcelain Fish wrote:I mean, you have the energy you put in, and you have the mechanism, and you have the result. With your fire analogy, you have the energy you put in to start the fire, the chemistry mechanism that causes the wood to actually burn, and (provided there's oxygen) the result is heat, light, and carbonized remains.

Instead of having the firewood and oxygen feeding the fire however, you seem to be positing the existence of another sort of fuel altogether necessary purely because it's a “magical” fire, whereas, in my mind (and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this was Impy's point as well) magic is actually simply a tool utilized rather than flint and steel/matches/blowtorch/etc.

That's fine, but a fire still needs fuel, and that fuel (not to mention the oxygen to consume it) is an expendable commodity. We don't know enough yet of how magic works in the Poe-verse to know under what, if any, circumstances the corresponding magical commodity can get exhausted. Clearly, there must be some potential for exhausting something; otherwise, why would Meji have tried to suck (sic) "energy" out of the weirdly drunken Ian? At least personal energy must be an expendable commodity. And there is evidence that impersonal magic also draws on something expendable; after all,
Imp-Chan wrote:This is effectively what the Inanire 312's did (though actually in that specific case they just used up all the available energy in the area for a while, like how lightning dissipates static for a while)
-- which kinda makes my point.

On one level, I'm not sure the details of all this really matter that much. As long as we're using magic in Errant Road in a way that is "playable" and consistent with the way it's used in Errant Story itself, then perhaps aberrations can be dismissed as something that the mages in Errant Road have thought about that the ones in Errant Story haven't, or vice versa. We seem to be more or less in that state now, although early in the game, there were some rather more pronounced deviations from the way Errant Story magic works. It would still be nice to get the concepts well defined, though. Impy, I still owe you that private message on the physics parallels; I'll deliver tomorrow, and I promise that no catgirls will be harmed in the making of that message. ;)
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Re: Magic in Errant Story

Postby Viking-Sensei » September 2nd, 2009, 6:57 am

In an earlier discussion, we were talking about using magic being sort of like using muscles - the more you do a specific task, the more proficient you become at it (developing a sort of "magical muscle memory") which is why specialization occurs and is benificial to those who focus their range of spells down to similar spells. Maybe if we applied another biological process - that of digestion - it could help even more.

I think (if I understand Impy) it would help if we tried to view magic as having two states. There is the raw magic, the stuff of the universe, that surrounds all of us (them, anyway) and is waiting to be used. Think of it like potential energy. Then, there's the processed magic - raw magical energy, absorbed by a magic-user, and transformed by the power of their will into a much narrower, less dynamic - but far more useful - sort of energy. And while raw magic is (presumably) infinite, the refined magic is not, and is dependent on the caster's will and training as to how much they can hold, how long they can hold it, how well they can use it, and how long it takes for them to refill their magical batteries from the "raw" energies around them.

Maybe (and forgive me if I'm wrong here) we should view raw magical energy as more like food. Mages can take the raw magical energy, the stuff of the cosmos, into their bodies and transform it into something that can be used... the outputted Magic as we percieve it. So in addition to having to have your magical muscles in shape to do a specific task, you also have to have energy to do whatever it is you're going to do. And just like a real world example, you can't simply keep pumping more and more raw energy into a person in order to keep getting more and more output - magic takes time to digest, and muscles need to rest between bouts of strong activity.

Therefore, a person's magical ability can be viewed as three different components:

1 - Digestion - How quickly can they process raw energy into something that's usable?
2 - Storage - How much processed magical energy can the person "hold" within themselves, and for how long?
3 - Talent - Can be natural or learned. Controls how efficiently they are able to output magical energies to perform tasks, and the degree of complexity of the tasks they can perform.

In that capacity, you could view Luminosita as a large communal storage battery - the Veracians take in the raw energy and shape it into Luminosita, who acts both as a 2nd stage storage device and a 3rd stage application of the energy through talent. Luminosita requires some of that magical energy to keep his existance together - to maintain his status as a battery - and the rest of it goes into storage for use either by him or by his priests/nuns. That also fits in with what we've seen in the RPG about Veracian magical use - individual mages can potentially tap back into the storage medium that is Luminosita to draw additional power for specific instances - it's probably not advisible to do this on a regular basis, because his mere existance requires constant input to maintain, but it's at least probably possible. He's a magical commune, really. When he was disspelled, what was really disspelled was the spell that held him together as a battery, not the energy itself (that would've been a much bigger task, even for Super Ian). Without those walls holding it back in, the (no longer raw) processed "weaponized" magical energy he was full of released itself without a will to guide it or shape it, causing the shockwave we saw.

This theory at least sort of works with Ian-Anilis too. I'd be inclined initially to say that Anilis is acting as a battery for Ian, but I think she's also augmenting his conversion (and possibly output) to increase the upper limits of both.

The question to tie this in as a unified theory is actually an odd one - what do the elven anti-magic grenades actually do? They could block the absorbtion of raw energy, but that wouldn't have a drastic effect on most anyone and therefore isn't that useful. Chances are it either nullifies the individual's storage capacity (meaning that when used on the average non-Ian person, it would at least take them some time before they could recharge sufficient energies) or somehow negates their ability to cast magic (which might explain why Ellis didn't die).
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Re: Magic in Errant Story

Postby Graybeard » September 2nd, 2009, 8:50 am

Welcome back, V-S, and congratulations! Would have sent you a card if I'd had an address...
Viking-Sensei wrote:In an earlier discussion, we were talking about using magic being sort of like using muscles - the more you do a specific task, the more proficient you become at it (developing a sort of "magical muscle memory") which is why specialization occurs and is benificial to those who focus their range of spells down to similar spells. Maybe if we applied another biological process - that of digestion - it could help even more.

In general I think it's a good idea to propose analogies like this. Clearly the way magic works isn't exactly like physical training, digestion, messing with quantum mechanics, etc. -- but the more its workings can be approximated, the better our chances of treating it soundly in the game.

Viking-Sensei wrote:Therefore, a person's magical ability can be viewed as three different components:

1 - Digestion - How quickly can they process raw energy into something that's usable?
2 - Storage - How much processed magical energy can the person "hold" within themselves, and for how long?
3 - Talent - Can be natural or learned. Controls how efficiently they are able to output magical energies to perform tasks, and the degree of complexity of the tasks they can perform.

This analogy works for me.
Viking-Sensei wrote:In that capacity, you could view Luminosita as a large communal storage battery - the Veracians take in the raw energy and shape it into Luminosita, who acts both as a 2nd stage storage device and a 3rd stage application of the energy through talent.

Full disclosure here (for the benefit of readers): this is a concept that you (V-S) and I thought through off line some time ago. Part of the motivation for the stuff at Mazantzel (the little village with the corrupt priest, with the "Festival of Departure" prominently involved) was to see if that worked out in practice. I think it did; at least the encounter proceeded in some consistent way.

We're getting close to something workable here. Now as long as it's compatible with the Poe-verse ... but I think it is.
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Re: Magic in Errant Story

Postby Viking-Sensei » September 2nd, 2009, 9:28 am

If approved by Her Impyness, this system also allows us to at least hypothetically explain away the examples that appeared to be non-canonical.

Kureji, who wields considerable amounts of magical power, could be highly proficient at magical energy utilization (the third step) but as a trade-off and consequence, she's also terrible at actually controlling the magic she has (thus the seemingly random nature of her magical abilities). She also tends to burn off all her own personal magic in single giant spells, which is why (coincidentally) she only appears every few days, does something highly awesome but otherwise improbable, and then falls into the background.

As to the issues with Father Egbert - his frequent transformations could have been augmented by an external magical source - our wandering you-know-who, doing the same Luminosita upstream/downstream trick to provide him additional magical power to aide him in said transformations. Also, it's probable - not for certain, but likely - that had he not leapt to his death, he would've died in the near future from the constant shifting around of his insides.
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Re: Magic in Errant Story

Postby Graybeard » September 2nd, 2009, 1:32 pm

Viking-Sensei wrote:If approved by Her Impyness, this system also allows us to at least hypothetically explain away the examples that appeared to be non-canonical.

Maybe, maybe not. Kureji is such a flake that many standard rules do not apply, and explaining her away seems somehow unnecessary. To the extent that an explanation is necessary, yours works.

Egbert is a different case, and Sister Rose even more so. Without giving anything away (lots of BBEG stuff bubbling under the surface here), Egbert's shapeshifting ability was not originally intended to be a consequence of, or even closely related to, the weirdness going on in the background, but rather an innate skill -- one that landed him first in Veracian Special Ops, the later at the Kiyokan mission. The same is also true of Rose, whose shapeshifting skills are much more limited in repertoire -- variations on a thirtyish, human female -- but exceptionally easy for her to employ. It really doesn't work for either of them to be able to do what they do/did as a result of being The One, in either the negative sense of the bad stuff that Egbert got involved with, or a "blessing" that Rose somehow got on the more positive side. The shapeshifting just -- comes easily -- to them; there is no getting around it.

There are parallels to this in Errant Story itself, by the way, that we haven't considered as we've argued this through. Destructive magic "comes easily" to Meji. She's wielded powerful stuff without showing the least signs of fatigue from doing it. Mind magic comes easily to Sarine; she's never shown any fatigue from that, even though she was quite clearly fatigued from casting her Healing magic, tinkering with the anti-human device on the way to the giant magic potato, etc. And time magic has never seemed exhausting for an Ensigerum monk to use, no matter how scary the Tsuirakuans find it; those who become monks find that it "comes easily" to them -- even as they've had to endure brutal (and not infrequently fatal) training to keep it (and, of course, the potentially lethal weapons practice) from eating them alive in the early going. Saying that a thing comes "easily" to someone is not the same thing as saying that it comes safely to them!
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Re: Magic in Errant Story

Postby Viking-Sensei » September 2nd, 2009, 3:27 pm

Ok, I have consulted on high with Him and Her of the Comic Powers That Be. Seriously, I had to drop off some stuff at their house, so I drove into *gasp* civilization, and while I was there helping them play luggage tetris, we had a lively debate about this.

Basically, Poe says that we're sort of on the right track with my analogy, but that we're still over complicating it with lots of analogies when it's really not that hard. Essentially, using magic requires energy - not cosmic, magical energy, just regular biomechanical energy generated via the metabolic process within the body. The same process that is required to use their actual muscles to move around is also required to use their magical muscles to perform feats of magic. So when we're dealing with exhaustion, it's not just a magical exhaustion while mana batteries recharge, it's plain ol' physical exhaustion.

Practice and natural ability can greatly reduce the stresses the body is placed under while manipulating magic, but those stresses still exist and take their toll on even the most talented and trained mages. But just as a marathon runner could run much longer and faster than the average Joe, they also cannot run forever - their bodies still require fuel and rest, still take small amounts of damage from exertion.

Additionally, more on Luminosita, and the nature of disspell spells.

Luminosita was created as a semi-autonomous magical battery that could be controlled by the people putting energy into him. Poe said that he didn't have any plans for anyone doing anything like it in official EN canon, but it was at least hypothetically possible to withdraw that deposited energy if you knew what you were doing. Luminosita had two different primary magical forces functioning simultaionusly - one was the spell giving him shape, form, and at least a conceptual identity - the other was the vast magical potential energy that had been channeled into him - sort of like how a balloon is made up not only of the latex balloon, but also the air inside it. What Ian did when he disspelled him was to *pop* the balloon portion of Luminosita, allowing all that potential energy to be suddenly (and explosively) released.

Disspell - Poe's got an issue with how disspell spells are viewed in most interpretations of magic, so I'm not sure if I've got this right, but I'm going to try. Disspell isn't really a counter-spell, it doesn't undo the magical actions that others have taken, it just disrupts the chain of events that are already going on. For instance, with Luminosita, imagine that his "spell code" was self perpetuating, and at the end it had an instruction that read:

LINE 100: GOTO Line 1

Well, Disspell basically inserted the magical equivalent of a "LINE 99: END", stopping Luminosita before he has a chance to loop. In a non-perpetuating spell, like Meji's Earth Smash, a well-timed Disspell wouldn't uncreate the giant boulder, but it might remove her control of it on the way down, allowing a counter-spell like Force Bolt to knock the rock out of the way without Meji's guiding influence insuring that it strike it's target. There's no real practical way to disspell most spells, since force bolts, lightning, et al happen too fast and only just the once, so there's no chain of events caused by the spell to interrupt.

Impy, please run this one by Poe to see if I got what he was trying to say even remotely right.
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Re: Magic in Errant Story

Postby pillar_of_hate » September 4th, 2009, 12:38 pm

I'm not remotely involved in Errant Road but, since this was posted to the front page, I do have a question.

It is written that magic, like music and other skills, requires measures of both talent and practice to be useful, but IRL I can think of people for which that does not apply: autistic savants. Are there any equivalents in ES, people who have intellectual or social developmental problems but whose innate wizardly abilities put master sorcerers to shame? Or would anyone like that be derided as idiots or burned as witches, etc?

I suppose that might cross the line into "uncomfortable aspects of the real world" that people generally use fantasy for escaping.
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