Rythe (Fair Folk/not-fae thing)

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Rythe (Fair Folk/not-fae thing)

Postby Kappa » Wed Jun 22, 2016 1:42 pm

In this setting we have an approximately Earthlike planet inhabited by humans and Fair Folk.

Humans are about how you'd expect.

Fair Folk are strange and powerful beings with a vaguely fae-like aesthetic (although I've been resisting calling them fae or fairies or any other term under that umbrella lest they become Yet Another Unrelated Glowfic Fairy). Their magic can do all kinds of awesome stuff, but they need a specific kind of human attention to survive: narrative appreciation from our narrative-driven brains. They need humans to notice them, interpret their actions in a narrative context, and find that narrative emotionally compelling, on a regular basis, or they wither and die.

The tension between their need for this weirdly specific form of human attention and the depth of their incomprehension of humanity has produced some weird results. A lot of the time, groups of Fair Folk will specialize - they find a strategy that seems to be sustainable in the long term, and then they stick to it. So there's one group that keeps their local humans in a paradise and meddles in their social drama and lives off gossip, and there's one group that's constantly staging an eternal war between Good and Evil in which both sides are actually colluding to keep the story going forever. (It's very, very rare for not-fae to actually kill humans, since humans are such a valuable common resource, but when they do Good and Evil, the Evil side commits plenty of non-murderous atrocities.)

I'm not completely sure how all of their magic works, but I know a few things. They can take any physical form they wish, and harming their physical forms does not harm them. The ability to feel bodily sensations is an advanced skill, which is generally considered very useful to pick up because humans are more likely to have life-sustaining emotional reactions to your romance plotline or action sequence when you seem more humanlike, and reacting to bodily sensations is something humans do a lot of. They can fairly trivially create and alter matter, they have clumsy emotional manipulation magic that could theoretically be less clumsy if they understood how emotions work, I'm pretty sure they can do illusions, I think they can give people superpowers if they feel like it...

The development that got me to the point of making this thread was artifacts.

Fair Folk can create artifacts. Artifacts are unique, non-duplicable, and innately recognizable: you cannot counterfeit an artifact. They usually have additional magical properties, but theoretically you could create an artifact that didn't actually do anything. The important thing is that they're a functional proxy for narrative attention. If you create an artifact and give it to somebody and they go around having adventures with it, all the reactions to their adventures will sustain you just as much as if you'd been having those adventures yourself.

The catch is - well, there's two. The first is that you already have to be kind of famous before you make your first artifact, because artifact creation requires your full concentration for a long enough time that if there aren't plenty of humans telling each other true-ish stories about you during that interval you'll definitely starve to death. The second is that artifacts can be destroyed (although it's really hard to do), and the destruction of one of your artifacts will seriously harm you. Lose two artifacts in the same six-month interval and you'll probably die. That almost never happens, but it's conceivable that it might.

Now, "unique and non-duplicable" is not to say that artifacts are never similar to one another. They often are! If somebody else has already made a magic sword that shines with the light of the sun and sings beautiful music whenever it moves through open air, there's nothing stopping you from making an artifact that looks just like it and does all the same magic things. But everyone will be able to tell them apart at a glance, because of the innate recognizability feature. You can spend a hundred years making a hundred functionally identical Sunsinger Swords, and at the end of that process you will have a hundred unique, easily distinguished artifacts, and people will probably start to be kind of weirded out by how effortlessly they can tell Sunsinger #6 apart from Sunsinger #85 despite the lack of any visible differences.
Last edited by Kappa on Sun Jun 26, 2016 1:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Fair Folk (not-fae thing)

Postby Ezra » Wed Jun 22, 2016 1:47 pm

That recognizability effect could be useful!
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Re: The Fair Folk (not-fae thing)

Postby Kappa » Wed Jun 22, 2016 1:55 pm

Useful like for what?
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Re: The Fair Folk (not-fae thing)

Postby Ezra » Wed Jun 22, 2016 2:39 pm

Well, authentication/identification comes to mind. You can demonstrate that you're definitely holding actual Excalibur and therefore you're probably actual King Arthur.

Can you tell them apart even in, like, photographs? Or only in person?
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Re: The Fair Folk (not-fae thing)

Postby Kappa » Wed Jun 22, 2016 2:46 pm

I haven't decided how far the effect extends. It might be a continuum - like, the more clearly and directly you perceive the artifact, the more obviously it is definitely itself and not anything else, with 100% accurate unfakeable recognition occurring somewhere around "at a glance, but fairly close by and not substantially obscured".
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Re: The Fair Folk (not-fae thing)

Postby DanielH » Wed Jun 22, 2016 3:56 pm

Or the guy who just killed King Arthur.
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Re: The Fair Folk (not-fae thing)

Postby Ezra » Wed Jun 22, 2016 4:06 pm

Definitely one of those things!
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Re: Rythe (Fair Folk/not-fae thing)

Postby Kappa » Sun Jun 26, 2016 1:58 pm

This setting has a name now! It is Rythe and I am proud.
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Re: Rythe (Fair Folk/not-fae thing)

Postby DanielH » Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:59 am

I think you answered this already, but I don't see where. Does the narrative attention need to be based on their actual actions? For example, suppose one of these beings was called Thor and they did various things. A few hundred years later, people still really about the things Thor did, but they have gotten a lot of the details wrong. And then a fiction company takes the Thor character and makes up a bunch of stories starring Thor, totally unrelated to things Thor did.

Which if any of these things help Thor?

How does this differ if all of this happens with artifacts instead?
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Re: Rythe (Fair Folk/not-fae thing)

Postby Kappa » Wed Jun 29, 2016 5:37 am

Artifacts are approximately interchangeable with their creators for this purpose.

There's kind of a continuum to it. The most helpful and nourishing is when the story describes your actual actions accurately. As the details get more vague or more wrong, it gets less helpful. Stories written about a character based on your personality without reference to anything you've actually done aren't nothing, but they're not much.
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