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Random GrimGrimoire Thoughts Thread
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Random GrimGrimoire Thoughts Thread
Hmm, one of the things I have to wonder about are, aside from Tahlea and Amoretta, all other Alchemy based creations are massed-produced via magic after being created in a lab. They are then somehow converted into a Runic design, and once sufficient mana is invested, recreated in exact detail. This brings up some interesting and horrifying ideas.
1. Someone finding a way to jump-start the industrial revolution using Alchemy to create machinery that would normally take months to build in a manner of minutes to hours.
2. Discovering a way to use alchemy to create natural resources by converting mana into the required resource.
1. Chimeras were an attempt to create life by bypassing the build first in lab, then design a rune method by designing a rune taking element from existing creatures, then having it go horribly wrong.
2. Someone creating mindless or worse, personality-less copies of Tahlea and Amoretta for sexual or combat purposes, such as seductive assassins.
3. Clockwork soldiers used to subjugate other kingdoms or unruly nobles and peasants.
Here's a weird and strange concept...new fics written by people who are not members of this group!?!?!?
(Archive Of Our Own allows getting alerts for entire categories, which in a fandom this small is not a bad thing!
So here's two that popped up in my RSS feed today, both by "oneill":
I'm rather fond of "Affinity"; I like the concepts, the emotions, and the imagery involved.
Both links go to the same place.
This is Affinity
Dezo: I managed to find Affinity, but it might be nice if the link in your post worked. Right now, they both point to Domestic.
Edit: Ah, so Laith is the resident ninja. Good to know.
For those who are writers, I requested that fanfiction.net add Grimalkin, Surely, and Tahlea to the character list (unfortunately, I forgot poor Mevy, or just "Staff" as he's known in GG), and they've added them, so for example people who wrote stories for the challenge for yuiseppe's fanart can add Tahlea.
(Also, the "pairing" option, where characters can be listed as a pairing or not as one can be invoked now.)
The Penguin's Powers know no limit!
Here's an aspect of Fridge Brilliance that smacked me in the face today.
I was doing a crossword puzzle. The clue was "Amoretto," and the answer was "cherub," which I figured out by doing nearly all of the cross-words. This confused me completely, because the only "amoretto" I'd ever heard of was the liqueur.
(As I'm sure you know, Amoretta's name in the original Japanese version of
So I punched it into Wikipedia, curiously, and this page came up as a redirect:
So, in essence, the game creators deliberately picked a liquor name for the angel character which is also a cognate for a figure of angelic imagery in art!
This was inspired by discussions in the Seirei's Gate thread, but it swiftly exploded into something that fits better here.
We're told that magicians are persecuted.
We are not told *why*.
We will be exploring just why the GrimGrimoire world has witch hunts.
What follows is an exploration of how the world might look, some of which is tied to canon, some of which we pretty much have to fill in from literally zero clues.
The emphasis is on many possible answers, so you could always decide that, for example, the only kind of necromancer you want is a Necromancer Impostress (see below).
Interested in anyone's thoughts, or if anyone already has fanon that explains this differently.
First a review from NIS's official website:
From "The History of Wizards": "The grand wizard, Gammel Dore, had always believed that magicians needed a higher social status.
He had requested the king many times to save the magicians who were being persecuted and even losing their lives due to oppression.
He also wanted to save those who had the potential and skills to be a magician."
From "Magicians": "Only recently has the status of magicians within the kingdom become much higher, but nothing changes the fact that they are still feared and alienated in society.
"Some regions continue to have witch hunts to this day."
First we must dispose of an answer that is wrong, but springs immediately to mind.
"But magicians were persecuted in the real world! Of course they would be in the GrimGrimoire world!"
No. No, a thousand times no. Never, in the entire history of the real world, have magicians ever been persecuted. Because...there are no magicians in the real world.
It's one thing to accuse infirm elderly women of tooth-rotting and penis theft. All the action takes place 'offscreen'. You can make up any litany of crimes you want, just as long as none of them are visible.
In the GG world, magicians are an actual thing that actually exists. They are people who study long and hard to gain skills and abilities that others do not have. Did the real world have anything like that? Sure. Wainwrights, for example.
Presumably there has been at least one wainwright in history accused of tooth-rotting and penis theft. But it would be pretty strange to accuse wainwrights *as a class* of a litany of invisible crimes. Wainwrights do indeed have abilities that non-wainwrights do not have, but tooth-rotting is not one of them.
Principle One: Common folk fear and hate magicians because of things that magicians actually can do, not because of things that other people in other worlds might be imagined to be able to do.
However, sometimes ignorance really is the answer: we'll discuss below how the average person cannot tell the (important!) difference between a simple laboratory and a golem-constructing engraving.
Principle Two: Most magicians are not Gammel Dore.
On the face of it, it's more than a little strange to start from the premise that the characters we're shown in canon are *not* typical.
But...the fact is, they're just *not*. Gammel Dore is the greatest living wizard in the entire world.
Prior to Lillet's arrival, there are only a few magicians that we know are living in the Silver Star tower: Gammel Dore, Chartreuse Grande, Opalneria Rain, Bartido Ballentyne, Hiram, and Margarita Surprise.
You can also count Advocat and Amoretta Virgine, sort of, but for purposes of thinking about how magic is taught and disseminated, I'd lump them in with Gaff instead. They aren't really a part of magical academia.
There are surely more humans --- guards, accountants, representatives of the Crown --- but we don't know that there are more *magicians*.
Even if you think there *are* more magicians there, there probably aren't more than, say, two dozen.
On the first Day 3, Chartreuse refers to himself as *the* alchemy teacher.
Given that Lillet's first lessons upon arrival in Glamour and necromancy are with the top instructors, Gammel and Opalneria, we may also infer that they are the only teachers of those disciplines, and presumably Advocat is the only sorcery teacher.
In other words, there really are only four teachers in the entire Magic Academy.
But how many students? It's hard to be sure. But on the first Night Before, Gammel tells Lillet that lectures are arranged around her schedule. That sure doesn't sound like they have lectures in cavernous auditoriums with hundreds of students.
We don't exactly *know* that all of the magic lessons are individual --- I'm amused by the thought that Lillet is That One Kid at the front of the classroom who is the only one who asks questions --- but the setup strongly implies no more than a few dozen students, and probably less, possibly only four.
The sum of all this is that practically nobody has ever even seen the Magic Academy.
If you learn magic formally, then you learn it at the Magical Society, not the Magic Academy.
The Magical Society teaches mathematics, drafting, reading dead languages --- skills that you need if you're going to learn magic.
Then, as a capstone, graduates of the Magical Society learn and are certified to scribe *one* Rune --- a simplified Rune, not the kind Lillet learned at the Magic Academy --- and to summon *one* kind of creature.
(In 2-1, Gammel suspects that Lillet learned her Runes at the Magical Society, indicating that they teach Runes, or at least they did when last Gammel visited; but Lillet denies that anyone taught her Runes before she came to the Magic Academy, indicating that her education at the Magical Society had not reached that stage before she got a place at the Magic Academy.)
For example, Alice is certified to summon elves and Bob is certified to summon fairies.
To summon a fairy, Bob must laboriously gather mana by hand.
In order to summon lots of fairies, they must gather mana into Alice's Rune, convert it into Alice's power, then use an intersection Rune to convert Alice's power to Bob's power --- a slow, clumsy, and inefficient process.
Fortunately, there is no real need to summon lots of fairies, except in wartime.
(Wartime, you ask? We'll get to warUsesForMagic_.)
For more in-depth education, there may be some sort of master-apprentice system outside of the Magical Society proper.
(Gammel implies on the third Day 1 that anything advanced is beyond the purview of the Magical Society.)
The Magical Society is at least *safe*. But most magicians do *not* learn magic formally at all.
It's pretty clear that something about magic in the GG world requires it to be written down to work.
Maybe just because non-runic rituals are too complicated to remember without writing down, and obviously Runes are complex designs that must be reproduced exactly unless you understand them well enough to alter them, in which case you'll need your notes even more.
That means that a lot of people learn magic by finding the grimoire(s) of a dead magician.
Of course, if you want to use magic *without it going horribly wrong*, then you need to learn from a master, not from books.
The grimoires provide a means to have `magicians' who know how to do something, but don't know the caveats and downsides and what can happen if you lay the silver links clockwise instead of counter-clockwise.
I'm very carefully *not* saying that the bulk of magicians are idiots who don't know the danger they're courting.
Magic is not like this:
The master told the apprentive not to summon the demon because the demon was dangerous and would kill people.
But the apprentice was stupid and also smelled bad and summoned the demon and died the end.
Magic is like *this*:
You come upon a collapsed shack --- it doesn't look like it was knocked down, so much as like it was a temporary structure that fell down of its own weight after being abandoned.
A partially rotted corpse is within.
Being a pious sort, you give the body a proper burial, and say a quick prayer for the soul's salvation.
Being a practical sort, you then go through the wreckage for valuables, because principles are best reserved for those with full stomachs.
All the food is rotten, not that it matters --- you wouldn't eat anything you found near a corpse anyway.
There's some good stuff --- two candlesticks, a kettle, ooh, nice boots, he won't be needing them anymore --- and then you find *it*.
Most of the writing is badly smeared from sitting in fetid water...but some of it is legible.
Your mama always said no good would come of learning to read, but over the next several weeks you copy as much as you can onto some old parchment you salvaged two moons ago.
The more you read, the more you understand, the more you can decipher from the tome --- as you begin to see the context, the structure of the text, more and more of the smeared ink you can read, the letters almost literally becoming sharper, more clearly defined.
And some of what you can't read, you can infer. When it shows you where on a cross to sprinkle salt --- that must refer to the metal cross you found. (One of the crossed bars is iron; the other is a metal you cannot identify.)
Like all thinking people, you know perfectly well that magic is real. And dangerous.
You also know that the practitioners of magic are powerful.
To the best of your understanding, the instructions are for summoning a spirit with many labour and householde uses.
The book also specifically mentions how this particular familiar is discreet and may be summoned without letting everyone within ten miles know what you're up to.
Well? What are you gonna do? Are you just going to *throw it away*?
Principle Three: The four branches of magic are distinguishable.
Yes, you can always find *someone* stupid enough to not be able to tell the difference between sorcery and necromancy, but you can't appeal to that as a reason to string up necromancers, because it is *really easy* to tell the difference.
You can't assemble a good-sized angry mob without stumbling on a non-stupid person who will point out that, um, the Runes are flagrantly different colors.
(Non-Runic rituals are unknown, but given that Runes are so easy to distinguish, it seems fair to assume that sorcery involves, for example, quite a bit more goat's blood than necromancy.)
Thus, we must have an explanation for why each and every one of the four branches of magic might inspire fear and loathing.
Let's start with the easy one: sorcery.
Being wary of sorcery is just good sense.
Alchemy doesn't have the aspect of independent creatures with their own agendas --- they have whatever agendas you created them to have, something which unsurprisingly is insanely difficult to do right.
Alchemy has the other three branches beat for sheer variety of ways it can go wrong.
We know that alchemy is difficult to control because Dr. Chartreuse --- possibly the world's foremost alchemist --- still loses control of his creations and has to call in backup.
Chartreuse, Third Day 1: Look, the equipment is running wild. The golems and homunculi are losing it.
Also, depending on who you believe, alchemical creations tend to explode.
Runes, being magic that someone has figured out in advance rather than making up as they go, make it somewhat less likely that an alchemist will get something completely unexpected.
But from a commoner's perspective, Runes actually *increase* uncertainty. If an alchemist is constructing a golem the old-fashioned way, they must physically shape the body itself, so if you don't see any metal or stone limbs lying around, you at least know they're not doing *that*.
Add Runes to the picture, and assuming you don't know Runes yourself, you have no way to know whether he's about to create a simple Blob or a giant humanoid monstosity that might at any moment explode in a geyser of molten metal. Or just step on you. Always remember the First Law of Robotics: Robots do not care at all about injury to human beings.
It's a bit of a headscratcher just what control issues might arise in necromancy.
GrimGrimoire necromancy is a bit short on ravenous flesh-eating ghouls.
They're just dead people, right? If they didn't run around murdering people when they were alive, why would they start now?
Well, it's true that necromancy doesn't tend to go catastrophically off the rails the way alchemy or sorcery does.
There *are* ways that summoned souls can be...unpredictable. We'll address that first.
But the real fear is of necromancers who *are* in control. We'll get to that after.
Skilled necromancers can specify a kind of soul they're looking for --- a hard-bitten career mercenary, a minstrel, or a once-noble soul who fell into sin and ruin before dying --- spending additional time to sift through the souls in oblivion until they find one that feels right.
*Very* skilled necromancers can call forth a certain specific soul, provided the person is recently dead or the necromancer has a great deal of information about them.
But most necromancers can do neither. They reach out for a soul and they get a soul.
What happens when you take the first soul on offer?
You'll probably get someone recently dead, someone with strong emotional ties binding them to the world of the living. Someone with *unfinished business*.
That's the first problem.
The second problem is that dead souls have trouble absorbing and processing new information.
To them, the world appears to be cloaked in fog, sounds are deadened, and the spells in common use give them no sense of smell at all.
But more pernicious is the effect on their *minds*. Their thinking is --- stalled. Dead souls generally think and feel about things the way they did when they died.
Estranged loved ones hoping for reconciliation will be disappointed.
Lujei held onto a grudge against Chartreuse Grande for something like a hundred years. (Then again, maybe Lujei was the kind of person to hold a grudge when she was alive.)
There are three schools of thought to controlling dead souls.
A Necromancer Impostress takes advantage of their muddled thinking, turning it from a liability into an asset.
For example, by convincing a centuries-dead soldier that the necromancer is in fact their liege and that the battle is still ongoing. This is, in fact, how the Phantoms in the game are controlled.
Obviously this can backfire if the necromancer learns to refine their magics to allow a dead soul to experience the world more fully and think more clearly.
There are many reasons a necromancer would want to do that given the chance --- to use a dead soul as a scout or a sentry, to enable them to react to a change in the situation without the necromancer's direct intervention, or simply to prevent them from going off-mission in some unpredictable manner spurred by their total misunderstanding of their situation.
A Necromancer Impostress can still make it work by using more complicated stories --- perhaps by telling the subject point-blank that they have died and returned, and claiming to be the *heir* of their former liege.
The other two schools of necromancy work precisely by making sure that the dead soul knows exactly what is going on.
A Necromancer Fulfiller or a Necromancer Lifegiver must be at least somewhat skilled at lifting the fog around dead souls' minds, but they need not be more skilled otherwise (you could have a Necromancer Impostress capable of conjuring Charon and a Necromancer Fulfiller who struggles to conjure a single Ghost).
A Necromancer Fulfiller secures the services of dead souls by offering services in exchange.
A Necromancer Fulfiller doesn't contact souls with unfinished business merely by accident; they do so deliberately.
What they want usually is not *violent*. They might only want to pass on a message.
...but if they are so desperate to pass on a message that their soul is not at peace, then that message is probably not "Tell my son to clean out the rain-gutters."
Any time a Necromancer Fulfiller --- or one of the pseudo-bodies they construct out of mana for their dead souls --- has something to say, there is at least one living person with a very large stake in making sure that nobody listens.
By this point in history, no one has to make up a reason --- they've long ago become common knowledge. The reasons vary and often contradict each other, but everyone knows that you mustn't listen to necromancers.
Necromancers lie, don't you know. They want to turn you against each other so you'll kill each other and make more dead souls for them to harvest. Or maybe the fell rituals that they use to enslave your dear departed relatives corrupt the mind as it assumes its cursed half-life, causing delusions.
To complicate matters, sometimes Necromancer Fulfillers *do* tell lies, and more importantly, any dead soul that is `awake' enough to speak truths is also able to speak lies. And necromancers have no special ability to detect lies.
A Necromancer Lifegiver has the simplest approach. Oblivion is not fun. Seeing and hearing while wrapped in an astral mana-constructed body is at least somewhat more fun.
Consequently, a Necromancer Lifegiver offers dead souls a simple deal: service in exchange for the necromancer keeping them around.
However, astral mana-constructed bodies typically dissipate unless sustained by a nearby Rune. Depending on the skill of the necromancer, it might take ten minutes or it might take ten hours, but a traveling necromancer probably will not be accompanied by a cohort of wispy forms.
But at the same time, a Necromancer Lifegiver generally does not dismiss dead souls and re-summon them later, for two reasons.
In contrast to Necromancer Fulfillers, Necromancer Lifegivers generally prefer souls that have been dead a long time and have no attachments to the living world.
Thus it takes a *long* time for a Necromancer Lifegiver to summon a soul, much longer than it takes a Necromancer Fulfiller.
Add to that the time it takes to explain to the dead soul their situation --- ensuring their minds are de-clouded enough to understand what's going on and what the necromancer wants --- and negotiate the deal itself, and it becomes just an unacceptably long delay.
Therefore, a Necromancer Lifegiver keeps their attendant souls stashed on their person. This actually makes them a hair *faster* than normal in `summoning' Ghosts or Phantoms, but not by much because they still need to reconstitute the astral bodies.
It might be possible to keep dead souls locked away in lamps or more innocuous objects, but the usual solution is for the Necromancer Lifegiver to store their attendant souls in their own body, which the souls prefer anyway since it allows them to share in the necromancer's senses, experiencing the world in a way that is ordinarily denied to them.
Of course this causes Necromancer Lifegivers to appear --- quirky --- to the unenlightened.
`Possessed by devils' is a common charge, which is ironic, because it's nigh-impossible for anything short of Grimlet himself to possess somebody who's carrying around a half-dozen dead souls in their body --- there's only one body to use as leverage, and there are many (potentially strong) wills that must be overcome.
But really, it's pretty hard for a necromancer so screw up catastrophically.
But that brings us to the other side of the coin. So why might we fear a necromancer that *is* in control?
There's religion, of course; you might not want some runecaster messing with Grandma's soul regardless of how pure his intentions.
But it's even easier to be afraid on your own behalf.
Imagine that a necromancer can summon a Phantom. That's all; no Ghosts. If they want to summon a second Phantom, if they can do it at all, they must painstakingly gather mana by hand.
That's not very scary --- to a magician. But if you don't have magic?
There *is* no defense against a Phantom.
One necromancer with a Phantom or two could declare themselves the new boss of the town, and no one could say otherwise.
If the necromancer is foolish enough to wander away from the Phantom, or to send the Phantom from their presence, then you can ambush the necromancer, kill them, and run like hell until the Phantom dissipates.
(I'm assuming that pre-runic rituals would be tied to the magician, rather than to a Rune.)
And if they have two Phantoms, so they can send one away and keep one as bodyguard...then you're boned.
Now suppose you find someone fussing around with a necromantic ritual. Maybe she's even got a nice, shiny glowing blue Rune.
Sure, she *says* she's just doing it for academic research, but you don't know nearly enough magic to tell whether she's conjuring a harmless ghost or a violent phantom.
If you do nothing, and you're wrong, you'll never get a second chance.
It's worth bearing in mind that Ghosts have next to no mundane utility.
If someone is summoning elves or even imps, they might just be a harmless idiot who doesn't want to do their own household chores.
But if they're summoning Ghosts, either they want to gather mana to summon something not so harmless, or they're lying and they're actually not planning to summon Ghosts at all, or they're a Necromancer Fulfiller, better known as an outside agitator that's about to make trouble where they're not wanted.
And so we come to Glamour.
And here we have the greatest mystery.
Imagine that a Glamourist rolls into your town and wants to set up shop.
Sure, maybe you can't tell the difference between a Rune that summons elves and a Rune that summons manticores.
But we're talking about someone who comes with a cadre of helpful servants.
If a Glamourist has mastered the third circle of the Fairy Ring, their basic summons have *healing powers*.
Who in their right mind would tell this person to move along?
Of course, a Glamourist might also summon dangerous fairies.
But a fairy isn't *terrifying* the way a Phantom is.
A posse armed with improvised wooden shields, fisherman's nets, and pitchforks could give an even fight to a few fairies if they really had to.
A Glamourist who has achieved, say, the third circle of the Fairy Ring is something like an armored mounted knight --- very effective under certain circumstances, vulnerable if you catch them unprepared.
You don't have the same "Kill him now while you still can!" anxiety that Phantoms foster.
First answer: yes. Glamour really does have a much better reputation than the other three branches.
Way back when, the queen approached specifically Gammel Dore, the great glamourist, and offerred protection and employment --- for glamourists.
It was Gammel Dore who insisted that the four branches of magic should be treated equally.
But that's still unsatisfying. *All* magicians are hated and feared, including glamourists. Why?
It will quickly become obvious, but I'll also state upfront, that the second answer is wholesale conjecture with no support in canon (beyond the bare fact that magicians are hated and feared).
Simply put, common folk have the idea that Bad Things tend to happen around Glamourists. They don't know *why*, but they know that you don't want a Glamourist as a neighbor.
Fairies, and occasionally elves, can be mischievous tricksters, and may take gleeful revenge on their master's behalf for perceived insults and slights --- with or without informing their master.
But that is a minor matter.
Elves are naturally helpful. It's not the elves that's the problem.
But when you summon an elf, someone else is being deprived of his services. And that someone else is not happy about it.
Elves come from the lands of Faerie. There are a lot of magical creatures in the lands of Faerie, and elves are on the bottom.
Being the lowest mischievous tricksters on the pyramid in a land full of far-more-mischievous tricksters does not make for a pleasant life.
Also...elves have healing powers. And the othey fae *know* that if you injure an elf and toss them to their family, or just order the nearest elf to tend to them, they'll probably be fine.
This means that the punishments for an elf disobeying orders can get very...*creative*.
Elves in Faerie can get a modicum of protection by being bound as serfs to the Lords of Faerie, the sidhe. How well that works depends on the individual Lord.
The Seelie Lords will only demand that you lick their boots.
The Unseelie Lords are in the habit of picking unlucky elves and hunting them for sport. Then again, you *might* get away. It wouldn't be fun if they didn't give you a head start, after all.
Fairies have it somewhat better --- that's why they're not so eager to be summoned --- but they're still very much lowly footsoldiers.
When Gammel Dore says that elves are naturally helpful, that's strictly true as far as it goes --- but they also don't really have a choice. Elves help magicians because they really, *really* don't want to be sent back.
(Elves, like Blobs and unlike imps, are generally summoned and *kept* indefinitely --- excepting elves that are summoned for battle --- because they're so helpful around the house.)
So, what happens when a Lord of Faerie notices that some elves or fairies belonging to him have gone missing?
And he will notice. A Glamourist who does the same summoning ritual in the same way twice --- for example, someone copying a ritual or Rune exactly without fully understanding it --- will always get an elf from roughly the same region, and thus the same Lord's domain.
Or worse, when a Lord's prized stallion unicorn is summoned right out from under him, causing him to land in an undignified heap, to the mockery of his peers.
He cannot, much to his frustration, disembowel the impertinent Glamourist, not unless the Glamourist happens to live near a natural thin-spot and blunders through the woods in a cold early-morning mist.
But there are ways the Lords of Faerie can retaliate.
They cannot target the Glamourist's precise location, so their wrath falls on the general area.
First it is not safe to walk the woods alone --- bodies are found days later, apparently mangled by wolves or...*stranger* things. Then it is not safe to go out at night, even with a dozen lanterns.
Thick mists gather at dawn and dusk, shortening the length of what can truly be called daylight. Everything is cold and wet.
Infestations of beetles devour crops. Strangling chokevines snare those foolish enough to wander too close to a tree without a cutting implement.
Common folk do not know about the Lords of Faerie, of course.
Even the Glamourist might not know.
The elves *do* know, but...well. If they told, then they'd be sent back. And they don't want to go back.
Still, Glamourists who *are* in the know have designed workarounds, and some of those workarounds are used by Glamourists who don't really understand why they work.
An Itinerant Glamourist constantly moves from place to place.
The primary benefit is that they are a moving target for the Lords of Faerie --- it takes time for the Lords' nastiest retaliations to get going, plus it just takes dedication to keep re-targeting them, and a Lord may simply not be willing to dedicate several mages to the task of harassing a Glamourist who they will never be able to actually *catch*.
If an Itinerant Glamourist understands how their summoning spells are constructed, they can also tweak them to summon from different locations in Faerie, thus spreading the annoyance among multiple Lords of Faerie and decreasing the chance that someone will be seriously motivated.
(Lords of Faerie rarely admit to each other the problems that they have with Glamourists, and in any case they have no organization, though Lords have been known to cooperate with personal friends and neighbors to dispose of a troublesome Glamourist once and for all.)
Depending on what kind of spell they're using, they may even get that as a secondary benefit of the Glamourist's own location changing, without the Glamourist needing to change or even understand the spell or Rune at all.
(A Glamourist casting the same spell twice will be summoning from the same place, but what exactly `the same place' means varies with how the spell is constructed. It might literally mean a certain location in Faerie, or it might mean the part of Faerie corresponding to the Glamourist's current location, or it might even mean five hundred miles northwest of that.)
A Cloistered Glamourist is the opposite --- they set themselves up with a tower out in the middle of nowhere and muster their defenses to take whatever comes.
(Living underground would make more sense, but they're wizards; they *have* to live in towers.)
Cloistered Glamourists generally scorn Itinerant Glamourists as vagabonds who pass through an area and leave the residents to deal with the fallout.
Glamourists who learn their trade from lost and damaged grimoires --- or who learn from masters who learned from lost and damaged grimoires --- often have esoteric skill sets that do not fit into the neat progression that Gammel Dore constructed for Lillet Blan. It is certainly *possible* for a Glamourist to be able to summon fairies without being able to summon elves (though they consequently won't be able to summon very many fairies, since they have to do all their own mana-gathering).
However, every Cloistered Glamourist is able to summon elves. Otherwise their homes would fall apart very fast.
Given that they *do* have elves, settling in to endure the Lords' spiteful wrath is not as crazy as it sounds.
Three elves plus the Glamourist herself is enough to have a twenty-four-hour watch for plants and burrowing creatures undermining the tower itself, encroaching bloodsucking thornvines, and other minor threats.
Three elves are not enough to defend against a ravenous monster, but if three elves is really all you have, then you probably don't attract enough attention for any Lord of Faerie to send a ravenous monster to hunt you.
Thus, Cloistered Glamourists vary in power. Even the lowest can make it work for themselves, since infrequent summoners don't get *too* much attention unless they're very unlucky.
And then there are the legendary, one-per-nation hermits. For more prolific summoners, some knowledge of alchemy is useful, though not required.
If you set up your tower near a thin spot where the lands of Faerie can cross over in the cold twilight mists, then you'll need gargoyles to protect yourself. But it would be smarter to just live somewhere else. (Glamourists' own abilities do not materially depend on being anywhere near a natural thin-spot.)
In the middle, there are witches with a staff of elves maintaining their property and a few fairies to deal with the occasional `problems'.
These are the witches you hear about and seek when your wife is deathly ill, and you have to brave malevolent foliage to beg aid from the scary witch.
In their defense, they don't surround themselves with malevolent foliage out of sadism; it just springs up through no fault of their own.
Contracted Glamourists work the way DezoPenguin described earlier.
Instead of finding ways to deal with what the Lords of Faerie throw at them, they find ways to get the Lords of Faerie to not do that.
This may take the form of a written contract of just an informal understanding.
Unlike devils, fae are not magically bound to the terms of any contract, so it makes little difference whether it's written or not.
A contract will typically come with restrictions.
For example, the contract might specify that the Glamourist shall summon no more than ten elves and six fairies, and that they shall not summon at all during a new moon or during the autumnal equinox.
What might a Contracted Glamourist offer in exchange?
Perhaps nothing more than the promise not to do even worse.
This is almost certainly the case with Gammel Dore. He could, if he chose, summon a Lord of Faerie into a prepared trap and assassinate them.
Of course, Gammel Dore *wouldn't* do that, because that would unite all the other Lords of Faerie against him, and no mere human could stand against their united wrath. ...probably. ...but y'know, maybe we should just let him summon who he wants. Just to be safe.
Of course, most Contracted Glamourists are not Gammel Dore. But many mid-level Glamourists could be a *huge* pain if they put their minds to it.
The magic that summons elves includes a component to send them back where they came from. But you can --- if you know what you're doing --- send something *else* back instead.
Of course that means the elf in question will stay in the human realm.
That's where elves living in the forest come from.
This is not commonly done, because triggering the 'return' completes the spell and releases the elf from the Glamourist's control.
That's why an elf like Gaff can wander away from his original summoner (presumably Gammel). Gaff's still going to end up serving *somebody* --- that's part of his personality --- but he might choose anyone.
Still, this means that Glamourists can send things to Faerie if they have a mind to.
When threatening the Lords of Faerie, some knowledge of alchemy or at least sorcery is essential.
With alchemy, things that explode are popular, but things that smell bad also work.
Nobody likes it when one of their domestic servants suddenly vanishes from the master bedroom, to be replaced a half-second later by a roughly elf-shaped blob of distilled sulphur. Mostly because of the rotten-eggs stink, but also because this alchemical creation, like most alchemical creations, will also explode if you're not careful.
But while alchemy is the most effective, a Glamourist/sorcerer can also be troublesome. Nothing ruins someone's day quite like a demon appearing in their home.
Of course, most Glamourists are either not powerful enough to threaten the Lords of Faerie or lack the precision to target a Lord's home rather than a random elf's shack in the fields.
Anything they do is no more inconvenience to the Lords of Faerie than having their servants taken away in the first place.
The path of the Contracted Glamourist is not denied to them --- but they will have to suck up to the Lords of Faerie to get it.
Unfortunately...the sidhe cannot be bargained with like humans. The sidhe have never gone hungry in their lives. What they thirst for is *fun*.
Considering that their fun is exactly what the elves are trying to escape, well...giving the sidhe their fun will not make you popular with your neighbors.
Contracted Glamourists operate under a strict master-apprentice system.
While training, the apprentice is protected as a secondary magician on their master's contract.
For example, when Lillet Blan came to the Magic Academy --- the first time --- she was protected by Gammel Dore's contract.
But all of that it, ultimately, just background. That's the situation that the Crown faced.
But we know that the monarchy was rather more sympathetic to magic than the average person.
How long ago did the then-king/queen first meet with Gammel Dore? That would have been the same monarch who set up the Royal House of Magic, would it not?
Or is it a false assumption that Gammel Dore (or his own teacher?) had any involvement in the creation of the Royal House of Magic?
The RHM *could* predate the Gammel-Lujei-Calvaros trio. But the way "History of Wizards" tells us that Gammel Dore asked the then-king for aid suggests that the then-king might not have been on board with the idea of magicians as loyal and lawful citizens...*until* meeting Gammel Dore.
My tentative guess is that the rapprochement between the Crown and the trio, followed by the fall from grace of Lujei and Calvaros, all occurred somewhere in the timespan of 75 to 150 years ago.
(Among other things, that means a couple generations of monarchs have gone by. Each generation might have different ideas on how to deal with the Royal House of Magic.)
But all we *know* is that Opalneria is almost a hundred years old. If Lujei was already dead when she took on Opalneria as an apprentice, then Lujei might have died more than a century ago.
On the flip side, I don't know of any lower bound. The Archmage might have been killed just ten years ago. Or just *five* years ago.
Lillet certainly seems to know who the Archmage is on the first Day 5, without anyone having told her. But maybe that's not evidence one way or the other --- something that important might be common knowledge in the Magical Society even if it happened seventy-five years ago.
There's been discussion earlier in this thread of exactly how much power the monarch has.
I wonder if the nation as a nation is fairly young. If the Crown gained power quickly mostly *because* of the Royal House of Magic --- and if royal power collapsed in the wake of the twin disasters of Calvaros and Lujei, so that, while no barons officially denied the Crown, the de-facto ability of the Crown to enforce its will --- and prevent witch-burnings in places like Caithshire --- was effectively gone.
Going off on a tangent unrelated to the place of magicians in civilization or the Crown's use for magicians, let's talk about necromancy.
After reading Spectral Dance, I started thinking about GrimGrimoire necromancy.
If you haven't read Spectral Dance, all you need to know is that it contains, as some sideline worldbuilding, a vastly-cleaned-up account of how GrimGrimoire necromancy works.
When I talked about Necromancer Fulfillers, I implicitly assumed that, while any given necromancer might not be able to call a specific soul, it *was* possible to essentially poke your head into the ether and yell `ANYONE GOT SOME UNFINISHED BUSINESS?' and expect a response.
I assumed *that* because, in turn, I assumed that ritual necromancy (and later, Runic necromancy) was ultimately derived from observing naturally-occurring restless spirits.
But there's no reason that's necessarily the case. The only free-willed dead souls we see are Calvaros and Lujei, both of whom were accomplished necromancers and presumably took steps before they died.
So how *did* necromancy get started?
This is inextricably tied up with another question: where are dead souls summoned *from*, anyway?
Are summoned souls compelled to serve?
For the other three branches of magic, we have a definite answer, but not for necromancy.
(We know that summoned devils are *forced* into service, unless you do sorcery the Wrong Way.
Gammel Dore tells us that summoned fey are *not* forced into service (although elves, if not fairies, will always help as part of their basic nature).
Alchemy is a special case; created minds are loyal to their creator because they are created to be so.)
For those impatient souls who can't read the actual story, here's how Spectral Dance answers these questions:
#. All summoned souls come from Purgatory.
Michael Carstairs, priest: "Only the will of God can let a soul return from Heaven—or be freed from Hell—while magic is capable of reaching just those souls in Purgatory."
#. It is impossible to summon the souls of particularly good or particularly evil people, as they go to Heaven or Hell instead of Purgatory.
#. Summoned souls are forced into service just as devils are. Presumably, necromancers rarely have to know or care who they end up summoning.
#. It is possible-but-difficult to name a specific dead person in advance and summon their soul, which is important to Spectral Dance but not to us right now.
This is mercifully simple to explain, but as we're about to see, there are many, many possible fanons.
The problem isn't a shortage of in-game clues. The problem is that all the clues point in different directions.
"Necromancy borrows the powers of the souls who live in the fires of hell. Open the gates to Hades to summon the sleeping dead."
- Game Manual, on Necromancy
Hades Gate: A grimoire that opens the gates to Hades. Summons Ghosts and Phantoms.
Acheron: A grimoire to use the reapers of life and death. Summons Charon, the ferryman of Hades.
Purgatory: A grimoire that calls upon the ghosts of sinners. Strengthens the power of ghostly spirits. Summons Skullmages, and empowers other necromantic or astral creatures, both directly and via Obelisks.
#. There is a place called Hades. You can summon souls from there. Souls in Hades are asleep.
#. The river Acheron exists and souls are ferried along it by a ferryman called a charon. There are many such ferrymen; `charon' or `Charon' is a title, not a man's name. It is unknown who appoints charons or what criteria they use.
#. There is a place called Purgatory. You can summon dead magicians from there. Unlike souls summoned from Hades, they appear with a physical body.
#. It is possible borrow the power of souls in Hell, if not necessarily to summon them out of Hell.
#. Archdevils can, with a mortal's permission, take custody of their soul upon their death. It is unknown what they want to *do* with mortals' souls, but they seem to have a preference for powerful sorcerers. (Both of Advocat's deals involve little risk or inconvenience on his part, but Grimlet was prepared to offer Lillet the moon and the stars knowing nothing about her save that she was a sorcerer powerful enough to summon him.)
#. It is possible to summon a specific *type* of soul. A Ghost could be anybody, but a Phantom had better have some hand-to-hand combat experience. (Not necessarily with a sword; we can easily throw that out as artistic license on the part of the animators, and assume that a Phantom is simply *someone* trained in melee combat and gets an astral version of whatever weapon their own self-image pictures them wielding.)
None of our facts contradict each other, as long as we keep firmly in mind that just because there is a place called Hades does not mean that *all* souls go to Hades, as in Greek mythology.
(Angels are certainly not imported with strict accordance to Christian theology, and in any case the fact that there are multiple charons is a pretty big clue that we're not sticking close to Hesiod's Theogony.)
GrimGrimoire is completely silent on whether it's possible to summon a specific dead person's soul (unless you are present at the moment of their death, in which case it definitely *is* possible).
But never mind about that. My question is, assuming you *don't* do that, who do you get?
One answer is that you get whoever's death was nearest in space and time --- someone recently dead who died nearby.
Another answer is that you get whoever has the strongest connection to the world of the living. (This could easily combine with the `nearby' answer.)
This one ties strongly to the theory that necromancy is derived from naturally-occurring restless spirits --- essentially, when you summon, you get the people who didn't *quite* become poltergeists on their own.
What if there were no restless spirits, then? How did necromancy get started?
One answer is devils. Devils might be able to compel service from souls they own in Hell.
Humans, being slippery bastards, figured out not only how to force devils to serve against their will, but also how to cut out the middle-fiend and just compel service from damned souls themselves.
(On the subject of devils and necromancy, Advocat gives Lillet the Purgatory grimoire on the second Day 2 and Lillet finds the Acheron grimoire after Advocat `accidentally' drops it during his scuffle with Bartido on the third Day 3; make of that what you will.)
(It is even possible that necromancy has no specific origin at all, much like, for example, jet engines have no origin beyond `people figured out you can burn stuff to heat gas and went looking for things to do with that'.
It may be that Glamourists summoning elves realized they could apply the same principles to snatch dead souls.
Needless to say, this is a boring explanation.)
So, how can we fill in the gaps?
Well, here's the pretentiously-named Oblivion-Centric Cosmology:
The default destination for any given soul is Hades (oblivion), where souls slumber eternally. If you don't fulfill the conditions for any other fate, then you go to Hades.
Charons ferry dormant souls to Hades and stack them up like cordwood.
Anyone can become a charon, and any charon can give up their commission and embrace oblivion.
According to popular theology, when there are not enough charons to ferry the souls of the dying to Hades, the excess pile up and either roam the earth as restless spirits or get pilfered by devils to steal away to Hell.
Thus, in times of plague or war, priests exhort the sick or the soldiers to become charons upon their deaths.
Rowing the creepy staring dead through the filthy muck of Acheron is the very definition of a thankless task, so all but the most selfless usually quit before long, even though oblivion is their only alternative. (A few are even seduced by the pretty lies of devils. Most devils only obtain the charon themself and their current cargo of six in such bargains, but one archdevil has somehow convinced several charons to secretly divert their precious cargo, delivering souls to Hell. The other dukes of Hell are yet oblivious to the coming change in Hell's power structure, but soon...*soon*.)
Devils want souls, likely to serve as slaves in Hell.
The powerful magicians of the Silver Star would never dream of dealing with less than Mephistopheles or Grimlet, but even the humblest imp can make a binding contract for a soul.
(What an imp would offer in exchange is less certain, but we know that imps can at least hold and carry distilled mana, so imps may have more abilities than are immediately relevant to a frenetic magician's-battle. At the very least, an imp --- the size of a human child, but quick and possible acrobatic --- would make an excellent sneak-thief.)
Typically the devil who obtains a mortal soul will not use it themselves, but instead either pass it to their liege-lord or sell it on the open market.
(The market gives us the concept of the `value' of a soul; Advocat tells us that the souls of young girls, as well as those who make Heroic Sacrifices, are especially valuable.)
Purgatory is special. There are a few ways to reach Purgatory: by performing certain foul magical rites, but having certain foul tortures done *to* you, or by committing suicide.
Skullmages just happen to have satisfied all the conditions. The original skullmages were shamans of a culture that was wiped out --- that's why they all have the same abilities. They were called skullmages by the pseudo-Christian civilization that destroyed them because their pre-Runic ritual magic used a lot of human and animal skulls.
In the beginning there were only a few hundred skullmages, but they stuck together in Purgatory, and occasionally induct new dead into their ranks.
Unlike souls in Hades, the dead in Purgatory do have bodies --- twisted mockeries of the bodies they had in life.
Devils cannot, as a rule, get to souls in Purgatory, but nonetheless, it is not a pleasant place not to live.
But since souls from Hades do not come with bodies, where do they get their astral forms?
The necromancer must supply them, cloaking summoned souls in shapes of smoke and mana.
Ghosts get only amorphous shadowy or fiery shapes, suitable for carrying a payload of mana and little else.
A Phantom gets a body resembling their own form --- but their form when they were in their physical prime, so it doesn't matter how they died.
Since their bodies are so makeshift and ephemeral, Ghosts and Phantoms have special restrictions on their use.
Summoned fey or devils, as well as alchemical created lives, may venture far from their Runes (or the pre-Runic equivalents) and suffer no penalty except the loss of their upgrades.
Ghosts and Phantoms, however, dissipate if they are further than a certain distance (say, a quarter mile) away from any sustaining Rune for for than a certain period of time (say, ten minutes).
As Surely put it, ghosts exist where they do not belong.
The natural world rejects them.
A phantom *can* endure, but only if it has two things.
The first is a haven it makes for itself, a zone with no life. An area in a swamp, perhaps, where the dead wood does not rot because even fungi cannot live. This zone serves as a buffer against nature.
The other is a *purpose*. Some unfinished business that *drives* the phantom. That gives it strength, the *will* to defy God's law.
(Chartreuse says that Lujei cannot leave the tower --- possibly because that's where she hid the Rune or Runes that sustain her existence.)
Thus, while Phantoms themselves are invulnerable to nonmagical attack, they are never far from something that *can* be physically attacked.
It is for this reason that border disputes have not yet devolved into pure contests of magicians --- a mob of armed peasants or a pack of armored knights still has a place on the battlefield.
A few nations even get by without *any* magicians in their armed forces, usually for religious reasons.
Which isn't to say that Phantoms are not a particularly important strategic asset in battle against armies with little magic.
For example, when used by a formerly-weak monarch trying to bring outlying barons to heel.
Dead souls have a limited ability to recall events while summoned, so they won't necessarily forget their mission in the middle, but dead souls never remember anything across summonings. A dead soul can't even tell you how many times it has been summoned before, or *whether* it has been summoned before.
There are mnemonics and strategies to compensate for a dead soul's poor memory, but it's a catch-22 because you can't teach them the compensation strategies because they won't remember.
In fact, the best way to get an effective Phantom is to teach them the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Ex-people *before* they die.
There are very few times when you can legitimately expect someone to die and be summoned as a Phantom soon, without being up to no good. War is one of those times.
If you are tempted by elements of the Oblivion-Centric Cosmology but want to maintain consistency with the Governor's setting, note that they are *almost* consistent: nothing in the Oblivion-Centric Cosmology depends on whether summoned souls are or are not compelled into service, so the only difference is whether souls are summoned from a place called Purgatory or a place called Hades, and that disappears if you allow that the terminology of priests might be different from the terminology of magicians.
You've spent a lot time thinking about this stuff, haven't you?
You've spent a lot time thinking about this stuff, haven't you?
When I have writer's block, I worldbuild. I have a lot of writer's block.
That, and even if it doesn't end up helping me with a story, it might help someone else. And then I get to read their story, so...
@Absolut: OMG, I need a weekend to go through your discussion and respond!
Say, you were the one wondering about the monarchy before, right?
I've just been reading that Early Medieval monarchs tended to travel around a lot rather than remain in the capital, because their authority had a habit of...subsiding when they weren't around.
I'm not saying that the Queen actually does travel, but rather that the outlying baronies feel free to make up their own laws about magic because she *doesn't* travel and maybe should.
(Perhaps because her own father was picked off while traveling...)
On the flip side, I bet Chernyakov (the country on the other side of the Caithwood) totally has a traveling king.
Oh, and on the subject of the Queen granting Lillet land --- if you prefer that the Queen not do that, I think the `politics that might be against a move like that' could be pretty *sharp*.
Given that *Sir* Gammel and *Lady* Lujei were both apparently knighted at some point, I don't think it's a stretch to say that then-Mage-Consul Calvaros asked for and got a little barony to call his own, and we all know how *that* ended.
Royal visits were also known as an excellent way to punish unruly barons, because they were
The local lord had to support the royal court while they were there, and this drained their coffers (especially handy because this also cost them money that they could have used to pay for rebellion, in addition to merely being a tax on their lack of political support for the throne).
Hey I am new to this group, but I did have one or two ideas for story ideas, I think I already told Dezopenguin them, sorry if I have been annoying.
Anyway Grimlet was banished to hell for breaking a contract with Lillet. For a prince of hell to be out done by a human, a human younger than 20 has got to be embarrassing. So what if someone wrote about Ggrimlets embarrassment by the other princes of hell, and his depression, being drunk and stuff.
I also thought that DezoPenguin has been writing a lot about Cressidor lately, maybe you should go ahead and write something like suffer not a witch, a multi-chapter story for him or Talia.
Sorry For double posting.
Anyway I was wondering something sense Lillet Blan is mage consel wouldn't it be funny if a devil came to her for a problem, or that one of the princess of hell came to her for a simple problem, like hey Grimlet needs to warm up his coffee and needs a self eating pot or something funnny.
I was also wondering if anyone wrote a story where Lillet would go to Hell on a trip to find something or even Fairy because it seems like some intresting tales could be made from it. Like Lillet visiting Gaf's family.
Anyway, here's the commentary on gunpowder I was talking to Dezo about (plus some miscellaneous factoids, because I'm like that.
From the Formulary-Compendium of Ogier de Gammon (translated into the vernacular with commentary by R. Amarone, C. Grande, and P. Sirah)
…does not impede the mechanical action thereof, nor the integrity of the whole material: but without the support of the body within which it has so been transmuted, little may be accomplished, and its elastic nature does not permit such structure easily. The Formulary on Life [PS: Kitab al-Takwin al-Kimiya] says that no homunculus or automaton using this transmutation has ever been produced, and my own researches have borne this out.
[CG: Wait, didn’t Blan use KT resin for those elastic arms on her chimera, the one she made in the Ashtoreth incident? This may well be out of date. Check before we publish.]
Composition: Powder, paste (suboptimal)
Affinities: Fire, air
Perhaps one of the most notorious alchemical preparations among those who have witnessed its existence, Devil’s Ash is at once the simplest proof of Alchemy’s reality and the greatest burden to its acceptance.
[RA: Standard Valpolicella/Calvaros/Rune disclaimer here, of course.]
Despite the name, its power has no relevance to the infernal realms or powers; its most common appellation is due primarily to its intense fiery and destructive nature, and to its sulfurous stench. The latter should not be surprising, as sulfur is one of its three primary ingredients.
Various specific formulations of Devil’s Ash exist, with a certain range of properties, but all consist primarily of purified nitron [RA: nitrate of potash], with sulfur and charcoal being the fuel for the pyric force thereby produced. Several recipes call for such ingredients as ruby of arsenic [RA: Probably realgar], pitch, naphtha, and even honey, but no such materials appear to be necessary or greatly useful - although they may greatly thicken the preparation.
All share various degrees of fire-production; those that hew more closely to the powder form also generate within them a great deal of explosive force, making the compound the simplest such that may be produced. Many alchemists have produced it for their patrons, as a simple demonstration of what the sublime science may accomplish.
However, while small amounts can be safely stored for later use, those lords who have sought to apply Devil’s Ash to their efforts in conquest, defense, and crusade have found themselves stymied by its primary flaw. The ash is, it seems, too simple: where most alchemical preparations are as efficacious as iron at repelling the Goode Neighbors [CG: i.e., creatures of Faerie - should we keep the spelling here or standardize it?], Devil’s Ash is just potent enough to attract their attention without warding properly against their presence. All manner of malicious bogles and wood-sprites see a store of the ash as a means to demonstrate their hatred of Man, and worse, to use his own tools against him: even some of those beings more friendly to mortals will take offense to its presence, and seek to cause its premature ignition at the earliest opportunity. And on those rare occasions where some imp of Hell has gained access to a budding pyrotechnicist’s materials, let nothing be said lest the soul tremble!
[PS: It is, perhaps, worth noting here that there was, some decades after the original writing of the Formulary-Compendium, a rather greater effort to apply Devil’s Ash to warfare. A few devices from this era are still used - an explosive device rather humorously called a ‘pumper’ is still used on rare occasions, the amounts needed for a direct assault in a siege being relatively low - but the problems mentioned led to the abandonment of most of the rest of the art. It has been hypothesized, by Lagrein and others, that some of this material was used in the development of modern pneumatic artillery, but such a discussion is beyond the scope of this volume.]
[RA: di Gammon’s description of the formula as ‘simple’ is quite correct. There are even questions as to whether Devil’s Ash should be characterized as alchemical in nature at all; even if the mixture is entirely denatured, it can still be made to ignite or explode, possibly explaining its habit of premature ignition. Few other substances demonstrate such a desire to achieve their inherent nature…]
The exact origin of Devil’s Ash is disputed, but most sources place it far to the east of the Sasannish lands, most likely somewhere in Kitay. A Sassanish text [PS: Can we source this?] states that “The excrement of the devil is known in Kitay as the ‘fire potion’, and they throw it forth with great force to drive off evil spirits”. Would that we know how to do likewise.
Digestive Salts of Sylvius
(cont. on pg. 89)
Very nice piece, nemo!
Procedurally speaking, I'm a complete sucker for things like this (that is to say, exposition materials--usually in tabletop RPG supplements--presented as in-universe text). I particularly enjoy the interpolations by in-universe characters, offering variant perspectives (this reminds me a lot of the
supplements, which I always enjoyed reading for their own sake), and the way you set it up with snippets of other entries proceeding and following the main text for the sake of verisimilitude. The use of Dr. Chartreuse as one of the three characters, together with two OCs, similarly helps to lend in-universe reality. (Of course, I had to snicker at "P.S." as being one of the commentators; I assume that was an intentional in-joke?
Speaking of really, really bad puns, I couldn't help but note "Devil's Ash," and then the end reference that the Sassanish text refers to it as "the excrement of the devil," immediately suggesting "Devil's
." You should be hit with a trout for that one, particularly as the reader has to actually
to realize what you were doing.
Substantively, I have some questions. One of them, brushed up against by the characters themselves, is whether Devil's Ash is
? (Of course, genuine medieval alchemists would actually see no difference between the two things, but from a game perspective there's a definite distinction between the alchemical (i.e. the magical, with reactions involving naturally-occuring mana) and natural chemistry (nonmagical effects). The ingredients listed suggest black powder, and yet the suggestion that it
the attention of fey creatures (rather than merely being
to same) suggests a magical component. On the other hand, if "Devil's Ash" is non-magical, then the suggestion that alchemical products repel the fey (assumedly b/c Alchemy > Glamour ), then the
of a magical component to the base material to create an alchemical product could allow for a stable gunpowder. Possibly this is the origin of the Kitayan "fire potion"? (I now imagine Tahlea reading these notes and speculating about this idea. And then blowing things up, possibly on purpose.) The additional magical implementation necessary would then in turn serve as a check to assembly-line mass production of gunpowder, insuring that guns can become possible on an individual basis but not feasible as standard weaponry.
Then, of course, you dropped several random references into the text (also, thanks for the shout-out to "Life in a Bottle," and now I wonder what "KT resin" stands for?): pneumatic artillery (siege engines using compressed-air propellant?), Kitay (presumably China, from "Cathay"?), and Sasannish (which appears to be a possessive, so I don't know what the original word would be?), and then there's RA's "standard disclaimer," two-thirds of which make sense ("Calvaros," of course, references "greatest burden to its acceptance," since duh, Archmage, and "Rune" to the fact that since you
make magical Runes out of Alchemy principles, that's basic and immediate proof of the existence of magical Alchemy as an art to the magically inclined...I also wonder if this dates Ogier de Gammon's treatise as Alchemy seems to be the "newest" of the four magical fields so perhaps it was assembled before Alchemy Runes started to be developed...but who is Valpolicella, and is the "C" in his/her/its name pronounced "ch" (as in "cello") or "s"?)
An interesting and provocative read!
Thanks, Dezo! *blush*
Well, let me try to answer some of that, roughly in order...
Actually, she's just a random alchemist named for Petite Sirah, one of the alcohol names I grabbed off a wine-list. I actually hadn't noticed that until you mentioned it. :P
*hits self with trout*
Skipping ahead for a moment... Yeah. The compendium was written (in my version of head-canon, at least) after Runes had been invented, but before they had been applied to Alchemy (and, in fact, before it was recognized that certain substances had these weird reactions they could do that weren't, technically, magical.) Part of the variety in results mentioned here (both explosive and various forms of incendiary results) was because adding excess elemental mana to the reagents changes the effects somewhat, and de Gammon was writing before accurate measurements of the starting mana of a reagent had been discovered.
Those methods, incidentally - along with methods of applying Runes to Alchemy, which may in fact have been the same thing to start off - were developed by an alchemist named Valpolicella, who's named after an Italian wine and therefore is probably pronounced with a 'ch' sound. They were later dramatically improved by another alchemist, one Calvaros...
Anyway, primitive gunpowder such as was described here is essentially a random mix of alchemical and non-alchemical material, and since they didn't react all that differently there wasn't really a way to distinguish the two. Particularly since any attempt to do so would presumably consume it. :P Fully charging gunpowder with mana might -
- make it less vulnerable to fairies, but that wouldn't do anything to accidental or deliberate imps in the works.
Yes, Kitay is China (or an equivalent). I have no idea what, if anything, they do to get it to work properly. Or if they actually do, or if they just make up small quantities and blow it up in unsuspecting nature-spirit's ears. The 'Sasannish' reference should really be 'Sassanish', and I may go back and correct it - it's a reference to Sassanid Persia, which seems to have been adopted here as the general name for the place. (Hey, we got Persia the same way, from Fars/Farsi/Parsa.)
On the standard disclaimer, Amarone got tired of saying "This was all before Valpolicella worked out the use of Runes in Alchemy, and Calvaros improved his methods to the point where Alchemy was a full branch of Rune-magic." After the fourth or fifth time, he just inserted the 'standard disclaimer' bit.
I have no idea what KT resin is, but it's really, really stretchy and was responsible for the chimera's elongating arms.
Finally, pneumatic artillery: I could swear at some point that I read an article on how early engineers in late-medieval/early Renaissance Europe were working on compressed air as a propellant alongside the early gunpowder cannons and so forth, but they were abandoned when gunpowder proved superior. Here, then, they would simply have stuck with that branch... unfortunately, I've been unable to find another reference to it after scouring the Web. I may have been imagining it.
Anything I missed in there?
P.S. Extra credit: why doesn't Ogier have an alcohol-related name?
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