Bindings Worldbuilding Info

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Bindings Worldbuilding Info

Postby Alicorn » Mon May 26, 2014 12:34 pm

Here's a summary of what we have so far. Anything that is not nailed down in the threads themselves is subject to change if we think it would be fun or if it turns out Aestrix and I were not on the same page about it.

Familiars::

Everybody is born with a "spirit animal" (this is an animal that is made of spirit material, not anything else also referred to by this name). These are not daemons - they don't have your personality or a guaranteed complementary one, nobody else can see them, they cannot change their shape when you're young, that shape doesn't mean anything in particular about you, they do not learn language in the same way you do, and they do not feel what you feel. Spirit animals come into existence fluent in a unique language (which does not come with a writing system); they do not automatically learn other languages from exposure, though they can pick up bits of them by deliberate memorization if you explain to them what various words mean. You pick up their language automatically at about the same rate you pick up the language of the people around you (so everyone is effectively bilingual, although the spirit animal's language is getting magical help).

By default, spirit animals sort of lurk around you insubstantially, commenting on your surroundings, talking with you, or napping (there is no upper limit to how often or how long a spirit animal that is bored/ignored/whatever can sleep). It's like having an imaginary friend that everyone expects you to have and maybe talk to. You get to name your spirit animal whenever it occurs to you to do so unless its personality is such that it names itself before you get there. (A number of spirit animals are probably renamed at least once by people who don't want to be stuck with what they thought was cute when they were four.) If you don't do anything about it, your spirit animal will nap more and more, your memories of its behavior will slowly fade in a dreamlike sort of way, it will be less visible to you, and your command of its language will deteriorate over time. Adults by their mid-twenties are liable to forget most details about their spirit animals and will often be unable to spot them. This discourages, but does not render impossible, binding the spirit animal to a corporeal form as a familiar (though if you don't know how to talk to your familiar that well this may cause inconvenience).

Binding a familiar is a strictly voluntary process which does require knowledge of how to do it but doesn't require complicated materials, difficult steps, or a live version of the actual animal or anything tricky like that; Iobel bound Cricket when she was seven. If you have a familiar, you need to keep it alive or you will be a permanent vegetable (and if you die, so does it), but it will by default be healthy and vital as long as you live (that is to say it doesn't age normally, not that it isn't susceptible to disease, injury, poison, etc. - it is all those things in just the same way a normal animal of its kind would be.) As long as it's alive, you can carry on doing your thing regardless of the condition it's in; these are, again, not daemons. (Although you're advised not to mistreat it so much that it opts to commit suicide.) You do not need your familiar's cooperation to learn or cast spells; if it exists at all, you're a spellbinder. If you bind your familiar you are not susceptible to deterioration in your ability to speak its private language or your memories about it no matter how old you get (or how little you chat). Most people do not bind their familiars unless they get along pretty well, though, so corporeal familiars (especially if seen out and about as opposed to locked up in a basement or something) can be assumed to work with their binders. Corporeal familiars have the normal abilities of an animal of their kind plus the ability to pronounce human-compatible sounds of their language or others they begin to acquire.

Spellbinding:

Spellbinders can learn spells. By convention, spells are written down in the form of "spellcharts", which are basically enormous, complicated flowcharts of exactly what the spell is intended to do under all possible conditions. It would be theoretically possible to write a spell description in another format (for instance, a programming-language-like-thing) but spellcharts are typical. A sufficiently complete spell will, if fully understood in all its contingencies all at once by a spellbinder for even a moment, be permanently available to the binder, even if they immediately start forgetting bits. (This doesn't strictly require a written form, it's just really hard to complete a spell purely in your head.) As such, working memory is an extremely valuable resource for a binder. There is no upper limit to how many spells you can acquire, and there is no particular reason you shouldn't acquire thirty variants on the same spell if there are thirty meaningfully different versions. There are books of spellcharts available and some relatively typical spells, but particularly good spellbinders are likely to develop spells of their own - it's easier to understand things you've invented yourself, not to mention the customization potential. The contents of a flowchart are typically linguistic (and proprietary sorts of spellbinders are likely to do their invention in their private language).

Every spellbinder gets exactly six spells per day. These are renewed with no carryover at precisely midnight - if you approach midnight with two spells, then after it you have six; if you approach midnight with zero spells, then after it you have six; if you approach midnight with six spells, then after it you have - six. It doesn't matter which spells they are - how complicated or how long-lasting or if you do the same one multiple times or anything like that - and there is nothing known that can change this amount. Effects of spells are either instantaneous (e.g. "turn this thing blue, now it's blue forever") or have durations ("I can turn invisible for one hour"). Spells are not readily reversible once cast (no just plain unbluing the thing without casting a separate color change on it, no returning to visibility early unless you have a separate spell for that or built a premature ending contingency of some kind into your invisibility spell). You do not get to decide how long your spell lasts when you invent it; there's just kind of a maximum "size" a spell can be and the magic does the math for you (but it will be consistent from casting to casting, and you can sometimes up duration if you streamline the spell). If you blow all six of your spells for the day on one thing you can cast a "hex", which can permanently magicify a thing. "Hex" refers both to the sixfold spell and to the objects that have had those spells applied. Hexes are usually more complicated and time-consuming than oneshot spells.

To cast a spell, you pick which spell you want and then you "charge" it. Charging takes an amount of time that varies from spell to spell but is consistent per spell, and like duration, this is not under inventor control but can sometimes be reduced by spell streamlining. The fastest spells charge for about thirty seconds and the longest (mostly hexes) are about half an hour. A charge may be voluntarily abandoned, but not "stored". If you charge for twenty seconds and then abandon the spell, you haven't spent one of your spell slots for the day, but you have to start over even if you try to pick up the same spell a moment later. You also can't overcharge a spell - when you get to the end of the charge duration you must abandon or cast, you can't just stall. Nothing in particular prevents you from spending practically all your waking hours charging a long-charge spell and then dropping it and then starting over, if you want to for some reason. While charging, your eyes glow (this does not impede vision significantly) in a pale color that is consistent for you. You are also slightly staticky if anyone touches you, but not enough to harm them or deter anyone really determined. And there is Ghibli Hair Fluff Effect. You can hide eyeshine by closing your eyes (which... does significantly impair vision) and the hair thing is easily obscured by enough surrounding air motion or by braiding it or wearing a scarf on your head. Charging is not a mentally taxing or physically distracting activity. You can be startled out of it if someone does something roughly as drastic as thunking your head against a wall, you cannot do it while literally unconscious, and obviously someone can threaten you until your eyes stop glowing, but you can charge a spell while doing practically anything you were likely to do anyway besides sleeping and maybe styling your hair or applying eye makeup. You cannot charge multiple spells at a time, but assuming the charge times and durations line up appropriately you can have plenty of spells layered on you at once. If the spell requires decisions, like target choice, you make them when you release the spell - you may wade into a situation charging a "fuck shit up" spell without having already identified the shit you wish to fuck up.
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Re: Bindings Worldbuilding Info

Postby Kappa » Mon May 26, 2014 3:08 pm

How is "midnight" defined? If someone changes time zones or moves to a planet or universe with a different day length or no day/night variation or some other weirdness, does their personal midnight move?
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Re: Bindings Worldbuilding Info

Postby Alicorn » Mon May 26, 2014 3:24 pm

It's solar midnight in the location where you bound your familiar. If you move a long distance you could get your spells at a weird time and freak people out.
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Re: Bindings Worldbuilding Info

Postby jalapeno_dude » Mon May 26, 2014 6:11 pm

Heh, Kappa beat me to asking about the obvious exploit. :p

If someone using this magic system binds their familiar on something that has a much shorter period between solar midnights (e.g. a rapidly-rotating asteroid), do they get recharges much more often? I'm envisioning a far-future version of Bindings where people go into space purely in order to get spells more often...
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Re: Bindings Worldbuilding Info

Postby Alicorn » Mon May 26, 2014 6:39 pm

You have to bind your familiar on the planet where Iobel and company live.
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Re: Bindings Worldbuilding Info

Postby Kappa » Mon May 26, 2014 7:23 pm

That seems excessively limiting. The magic system has a finite lifespan XDDDDD granted it is the lifespan of a planet but that's shorter than the lifespan of a universe

(i may be joking about the "excessively" part)
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Re: Bindings Worldbuilding Info

Postby Bluelantern » Mon May 26, 2014 7:55 pm

What kinds of animals can you get? Could you get dinosaurs or mythical creatures? Or large predators?

Are people aware of how many spells they still have? or when they return? The Charging time is something that you have to discover when you cast the spell for the first time or you can get a notion before or during the charging? Same thing for duration...
Sorry for my bad english

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Re: Bindings Worldbuilding Info

Postby Alicorn » Mon May 26, 2014 8:28 pm

We haven't discussed any limitations on spirit animal species but my feeling is that they tend very strongly towards being medium-sized sorts of things, much more so than daemons or truly random animals or whatever. They don't come in mythical creatures (and the planet doesn't have any magic animals unless you deliberately make one via hex, in which case it still won't breed magic babies). I suppose you could get an extinct one.

Charging and duration times must be discovered empirically (i.e. by charging till you're done, and then running the spell until it's done). You can tell whether you have any spells left by trying to charge one, but you can only know how many you have by remembering/consulting the clock.
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Re: Bindings Worldbuilding Info

Postby Bluelantern » Mon May 26, 2014 9:47 pm

If you start charging and midnight passes will the spell count for before or after

Can you co-cast or use less than six joined spell slots?
Sorry for my bad english

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Re: Bindings Worldbuilding Info

Postby Alicorn » Mon May 26, 2014 10:10 pm

Charging doesn't use up a spell slot, it just requires that you have one, so if you're charging while midnight passes you use a spell slot from your new spell set, not the previous day's.

There is no such thing as co-casting and I don't know what you mean by the second part of that question.
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