Moondust Worldbuilding Thread

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Moondust Worldbuilding Thread

Postby Timepoof » Mon Jul 18, 2016 8:16 pm

The world is earthlike, but people know about the magic. A few changes have been made, including notably a non-Earth-standard, newly invented city the local Flora lives in.

If a beam of moonlight shines through a crystal ball (made in the world), the place where the light comes out of the crystal ball accumulates a magical substance called moondust. This produces a glowy lightshow that is very beautiful to watch, and moondust itself is quite pretty.

Crystal balls can be augmented to produce more moondust per moonlit night. That is the easiest thing to do. Plain crystal balls are cheap, but they take a week (aka 7 nights with moonlight) to get enough moondust for even the simplest elixirs, so the first thing one does is enhancing the ball. Some places, pre-enchanted balls are sold commercially. They're expensive but buyable for the average person if saved up for.

Moondust is also sold commercially, but anybody who plans to make more than maybe 12 elixirs per year should consider getting their own crystal ball (unless they live somewhere cloudy where the moon shines through once per week or something).

If you sprinkle* a person with (enough) moondust, that person is called a Dusted/Active/Chance - they get a chance of finding their activation conditions ("acticons" is the slang) and activating. 
*(distinct from simply putting or dropping by accident - it's a special mental action)

Most people are sprinkled, but few find their conditions, somewhere from 1000 to 10 000, varies wildly by year and other factors.

There are two types of condition subcomponents: active and passive.
Passive condition parts may: require it to be a certain time of day, require being in a certain location, require being in a specific emotional state...
Active condition parts are things like: doing a backflip, reciting a phrase, doing something like touching your nose some number of times, etc.

If someone finds their activation conditions and activates, they transform and gain a superpower, the flexibility and versatility of which depends on how uncommon their conditions were. They then stay in that form until they lose focus approximately equivalent to chanting "I'm transformed" in their head or doing something with their powers.

When someone transforms, common changes include a different face, a different build, sex change, a costume, animal parts, sparkles, etc.

Either the activation conditions, the power, or in rare cases the transformation will be seemingly random until one meets one's alts, and then it somehow becomes funny.

To re-transform, one must recreate the activation conditions in reduced form - the usual reductions are the quantity of passive conditions or their strictness.

If someone is already activated, and has a pet they love/are very attached to, they can sprinkle that pet. A pet has a much higher chance of activating but that is still rare. From the moment a pet activates, both owner and pet get an always-on usually passive power, but only when the owner is transformed. Pets do not transform or detransform - activation is a one time and then forever thing. When transformed, an owner can puppet it/order it reliably.

Items can be sprinkled. This is separate from Actives/Dusted. It is just an item that can have something happen to it which will turn it into a more intuitive and more flexible version of an elixir enchanted item, except you can't predict its effects in advance.

If you mix moondust and different herbs in specific ways, you can make elixirs.

How It Works In Practice:
An elixir's effect is always attached to a person, item, or place. When it is a person, the effect is either one-time (ex: healing), temporary (ex: luck boost), or ongoing (sleeping beauty). When it is an item, it is called an artifact and works in [this way (will add later, wordbox broke)]. If an untransformed active is doing an elixir, it is slightly harder to mess up.

When someone is making an elixir and it is working, the ingredients mix in perfectly. Elixirs usually have a (faint) pleasant, sometimes flowery smell, and a slightly shimmery pastel color, which changes to a dark color if it is dangerous, white if it is inactive, and a neon color if it is about to do weirdness.
Some elixirs need skin contact to affect you while others need to be drunk.
To anthropomorphise, elixirs don't like hurting people, so it is very hard to create a destructive elixir and easier to get healing/purifying/protecting elixirs. (Purifying water is a level 2 elixir, which you need 3 drops of per litre.)

Mistakes and Plot:
If you mess up an elixir, possible effects include:
something weird happens (interworldly, if a sandbox calls for it), for example: a contagious disease that makes you sneeze pink glitter, a hat that is alive and can communicate by changing colour, etc. (common)
nothing happens (common)
someone is killed or something is destroyed (very rare)

Making elixirs is very fiddly, and requires precision, very good timing, keeping track of multiple things at once, and patience. Most of it is generally considered to be on the same level as surgery. (Aurum Vampires and similar will have a huge advantage at this thing.)
The fiddliness doesn't start at surgery level, there's three unofficial tiers: tier 1 is on the level of baking, tier 2 is a chemical experiment and tier 3 is the surgery level. Enchanting a crystal ball is the only item on tier 0.
Tier 1 contains healing elixirs, luck elixirs (they check for those on exams) and divination/scrying.
Tier 2 contains items of tier 1 and a few more variously useful effects.
Tier 3 has items of that and all the best stuff like temporary super strength, house warding, object enlarging, and the "sleeping beauty effect".

Inventing Elixirs:
If you require a new elixir, you may invent one like so: elixirs operate on silly moon logic, with a distinctive flavour. 
If you have a similar-but-not-quite-right potion, you figure out what to change from it according to that logic. There are formulas with which you can check if you've got it right, but they do not help with getting it right other than that.
If you don't have a similar elixir, you have to combine parts of various other elixirs and inverse (there is a way to invert a recipe) parts of others and see what fits in with the logic. Creative people might have an advantage in this, and people with precognitive powers is how one might break this system.

Components in Elixirs: 
a base (water + a small pinch of moondust to make sure everything mixes properly), various herbs (correctly chopped, dosed and timed), 
your own hair/nails/saliva/etc. (sometimes), stirring speed, 
time spent stirring (to a tenth of a second) (the number of them does not matter, precise timing does), 
stirring direction, 
temperatures and pressures,
very rarely soaking a piece of paper with an incantation while speaking it in a monotone (used in some divinations and scrying),
and then the handful of moondust at the end which activates the elixir.

All attempts to force people to make elixirs against their will fail (that is, by threat or any sort of body control, but not by, like, a dying friend or wanting to help out at the hospital or something like that) - it is immediately obvious that the elixir is not working. Robots can't make them either, although AI would, if it was created there. 

Some plants (very very rare) have to be grown from seed/sapling by the person making the elixir.

It is very taboo to interrupt a magic user if you don't know what they're doing, because using elixirs to be evil is a bit nonsensical and usually if it is an evil elixir, whatever effect it may have is probably better than what would happen if the elixir went splodey halfway through. This applies specifically to people making elixirs and doing things with their powers - feel free to call the cops on someone who is blatantly robbing a bank with elixirs.

Because of the weird activation conditions and everyone predictably wanting superpowers, in this world people don't bat an eyelash at others being weird. This helped the autism movement (no "quiet hands" to seem normal here, of course) and possibly some others.

Elixir education here is mostly makers taking apprentices. They are usually eager to do so, especially if the apprentice has any talent, but due to the fiddliness of the magic, only a small minority choose to do it.

It was vaguely known, but regarded as being fake, in the middle ages, (in most places that didn't have someone actively doing something magical) but then with more worldwide connectivity, the information trickled out, no Big Reveal or anything. By 2000, it was common knowledge everywhere.

People tried to use elixirs in war - this served to make some wars shorter and with less casualties, but didn't change much because most of the really useful elixirs, like temporary strength, hadn't been invented until about 2000 or so.

Flora's town:
Flora lives in a made-up town called "Keplurne" where she is apprenticed to an expert elixir maker.
The town has a lot of magically useful plants natively, and has attracted several elixir makers from Europe and beyond, who imported a lot more.
After an accident with an elixir, the town hall contains intangible dancing badgers.
In the town, there is a collection of artifacts, both dusted and elixir-made.
One of those is a teleportation artifact (elixir made), which Flora's parents are allowed to use for their trips because of Flora's apprenticeship (specifically, as a favour for her being really good at it).
Another artifact (elixir-made, recipe lost) "turns you into" Julius Caesar, i.e. while you are touching it you shapeshift into him and begin to think of yourself as him. It somewhat goes off your knowledge: a historian would get a more accurate and detailed version of him than a normal person; even if you thought Caesar was a woman while your other facts were correct, the artifact would make you think "you" are male; etc.
Together with the sleeping beauty elixir, it is considered a plausible avenue on immortality.

The WAFFLES will submit to this indignity.
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