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Daevinity Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 3:20 pm
by Alicorn
Here's a summary of what we have so far including some things I made up just now. Anything that is not nailed down in the threads themselves (within Incandescence - some of the Demon Cam sandboxes contain me making things up without consulting Aestrix) 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.

Parlor Tricks:

Humans can do two things: "parlor tricks" and summons. The parlor tricks are for the most part intensely useless. Everything they can do is short-range, imprecise, slow, and tiny, while requiring great concentration and focus. Parlor tricks that ever see use include tiny telekinesis for the disabled to operate devices of various sorts, poor small-scale cosmetic editing on things that are inaccessible with e.g. paint (like on a laminated sheet of paper, under the lamination), and checking summon bindings. In virtually every situation that comes up in real life as opposed to dramatic action movies where you are tied up just barely out of reach of a key necessary object, there is no point to using parlor tricks, though some mileage could be gotten out of them before magic was common knowledge.


Summons are quite different; it just involves drawing a circle and some words around it in any language or combination of languages. You specify with those words which kind of daeva you want (fairy, angel, or demon), and may optionally specify a specific one (by name or any unique descriptor) that you have previously met. (If you have met more than one daeva of the same kind with the same name you must be more specific). Multiple people may collaborate on a circle. The last one to make a mark before it is a valid circle (for safety reasons, one of the necessary parts - the specification of daeva type or the enclosed circle itself - is typically last) counts as the summoner. Circles may be made in just about any medium but must be on a floor (a surface which supplies gravity). If you summon a random daeva you get the first one to accept the summons, usually in less than a second, but it is not strictly impossible for a summons to be refused by all applicable daeva. If you summon a specific daeva they can tell that they are being specifically addressed but cannot identify you in particular until they answer. They may refuse.

Most circles also include specifications that the daeva is bound to remain within the circle and affect nothing outside of it except as part of performing an agreed-upon task and collecting its agreed-upon payment. "Affecting nothing outside the circle" is a bit loose and permits speech and creating visible effects, but does prevent the creation, changing, or motion of any objects that are not inside the circle, and the use of anything within the circle to directly and remotely affect anything out of it. (If you shoot at an encircled demon with a laser gun, they may make a mirror and reflect the laser anywhere they like, but if they make their own laser gun they may not shoot at you.) Once summoner and daeva have agreed on a task and a payment for it, the daeva can leave the circle to do things sincerely relevant to completing that task. If you summon a demon to build you a house, they may create themselves architecture textbooks to consult, mess with the nearest water main to get you plumbing, and do things like make themselves food to keep themselves comfortable while they work, but they may not create a black hole, fly to Fiji and sip mixed drinks, or attack you. There is plenty of leeway in the standard "sincerely relevant" clause, obviously, because sufficiently bloodyminded daeva could think of many things as sort of relevant, so the task description will often include a qualifier like "without knowingly causing me inconvenience". The parameters of task, payment, or both may be edited after agreement as long as both summoner and daeva agree. Some details of payment may be hardwritten into the circle, such as requiring that it come exclusively from the summoner (this would be useful to prevent an unethical daeva from taking underspecified payment parameters and using it to force the summoner to agree that the daeva may take things from unaffiliated parties).

After completing the agreed-upon task, the daeva may do anything that is sincerely relevant to getting what they agreed to work for. If you do not appear to be coughing up the thing, this includes making life really unpleasant for you until you do. Some circles forbid the summoned daeva to talk beyond accepting or rejecting summoner-proposed tasks-and-payments with prespecified phrases. These gag orders cover explicitly communicative gestures and sign language as well as any voiced sound but not ordinary body language, facial expression, or breathing. In these cases the summoner must completely specify both task and payment themselves, although they can try multiple times without a problem if the daeva rejects the first proposal. The constraint of relevance only says what the daeva cannot do, not what they can do. A daeva under a task binding may leave the circle only to stand around idly, if they so desire.

Dismissing a daeva consists of concentrating on wishing to do so for about a minute. Summoners may do it before a deal is agreed upon, after they have given the daeva payment, or at any time when the daeva is not confined to the circle and is without a task/payment agreement in place. Summoners cannot get rid of daeva who have completed their tasks and have not been paid. If it becomes clear that the payment simply isn't going to materialize (or the daeva is not willing to go to the lengths necessary to force it out of their summoner), they may agree on a different payment in order to be able to go home. Daeva cannot go home by themselves without killing their summoners. A dead summoner instantly sends all their current summoned daeva home. Daeva reappear in the same place they were when they were summoned after they are dismissed.


Daeva come in three kinds: fairies, angels, and demons. Each kind has its own realm and its own sort of magic (in addition to parlor tricks). About 99% of daeva (this proportion has been dropping since magic became common knowledge and used to be higher) are naturally occurring. They appear (daeva cannot conventionally reproduce), more or less near existing daeva, as appropriately winged adults who can move around and use their magic but do not automatically know any language. Other daeva are deceased summoners, who appear in the same way but without wings and with complete memories of their human lives. Apart from the wings and any deliberately introduced additional cosmetic changes, naturally occurring daeva are more or less human-looking with similar variation in visible traits taken independently, but without the correlations between them observed in humans - e.g. the darkest-skinned daeva are no more likely to have brown eyes than blue, daeva with small-bridged noses are no more likely to have epicanthal folds, etc.

Daeva are indestructible and not quite entirely biological. Indestructible is here importantly different from invulnerable - daeva can be hurt. Just not very much. If you open a door into one this will do about as much damage as hitting them with a car will do about as much damage as flinging them off a building tall enough to allow terminal velocity. Daeva can be rendered dizzy by blows to the head, but not knocked unconscious; can be repelled but not poisoned by noxious substances; can be singed but not cooked by heat; can get papercuts but not stab wounds. It's not harder to do small amounts of damage to a daeva compared to a human; it's just impossible to do more than that. They also heal very quickly, though not instantly, from even that small damage. Daeva can be arbitrarily inconvenienced in ways that do not damage them - if a demon falls into a black hole, they will not be crushed or spaghettified, but they will be much heavier than is comfortable and have trouble moving around. They can get hungry but only so hungry, sleepy but only so sleepy, short of breath but only so much. The indestructibility is relaxed around deliberate body modification desired by the daeva. If they care to self-mutilate they can, and they will still fast-heal.

Fairies are telekinetic and live in Fairyland and have an assortment of insectile wings. Fairyland is lively and full of interesting flora and fauna, including a plant that can be turned into a beverage that will cause an ex-summoner fairy to sprout fairy wings. Multiple tries to get a wing type that suits you is possible if you're willing to remove the previous set each time. Fairy wings are weak and do not actually suffice to provide mechanical flight; fairies accomplish that through telekinesis with minor assistance from their wings. Fairies form industry and economy and civilization in a loosely humanlike manner (compared to angels and demons) because the limitations of their magic allow them to realize more gains from trade; they are also easiest to pay during a summons because they can't make most things themselves at home easily.

Angels can turn matter into other matter within certain limitations on the ratio between original and converted mass and volume, and live in Heaven and have an assortment of birdlike wings. Heaven is principally composed of huge quantities of squashy, glowy (sufficiently glowy to sustain nearby made plants) "cloud" matter which angels use as raw materials to make things and as a convenient default substance to turn things they are done with back into. Their ability to change things extends unproblematically to their own bodies, and while plenty of them go with the basic human-plus-wings shape there are some extreme cases that turn into odd things bit by bit. Angels can make things they need out of infinitely available fluff and therefore don't form a conventional economy like fairies do, but they still often live in groups.

Demons can create arbitrary matter given reasonable parameters to specify the end result, and live in Hell and have an assortment of batlike wings. Hell is natively a total void containing absolutely nothing but has since been populated with plenty of stuff, including, notably, an enormous plane of solid gold which has most of Hell's cities on it. The demon ability to create matter is faster, with better range and more ability to make things that are specified but not fully understood (like specific books), than the angel ability is. Although demons cannot interact specially with human souls in any way, the rumor exists, and many demons who accept summons find it entertaining to perpetuate.


Dead people who never summoned any daeva in their lifetimes go to Limbo when they die, where they are indestructible in the same way daeva are but not supplied with any magical powers. Parlor tricks still work in Limbo but summons do not. By itself, Limbo is an infinite expanse of flat earth. Every person who arrives adds "one thing" - scare quotes because many such things have subcomponents. The one thing is whatever tops that person's individual list of things an afterlife would be incomplete without that isn't a person (so no deities, loved ones, ideal romantic partners, whatever) and isn't already there in some suitably shared form (there is now sunshine on a day/night cycle and an ocean and plenty of air, in Limbo). This could be anything from your favorite former dog to your house to a place to ice skate, but it is a physical thing (not "the ability to fly" or "eternal bliss" or "enlightenment"). You appear near your brand-new thing and near other Limboites.

Things like houses and dogs that, in order to remain in recognizable working order in their normal forms, would normally require maintenance and shopping trips and outside input and so on, do not require these things in Limbo (except informationally: your internet will not work and you cannot call people on your phone). For instance, if you have a house, a reasonable complement of stuff you might find in that house will be around when you look for it. You can exploit this to generate "new" objects, although except for running a hose from your sink out the window so everyone can help themselves to unlimited water, you can't do it that fast - e.g. if your house has a couch in it, you can take the cushions off the couch and give them away and then find the couch becushioned some weeks or months later; if you have a drawerful of batteries, there will continue to be a drawerful of batteries even if last year you emptied it to put batteries in things; if you have bacon in the fridge and you cook it there will be bacon in the fridge again a week later; etc. Creative residents of Limbo are able to turn the natively present earth into clay, and have built additional structures out of same plus objects salvaged from the homes of luckier denizens, although these don't have the convenient supernatural properties of people's brought things.


On a regular basis with several years between each event, pairs of not-mortal worlds match up with each other for a few days at a time. This does not allow daeva/limboites to visit each other's homes - that's impossible - but it creates pockets of overlap no more than a few miles across, where residents of both sides can meet. In practice these pockets contain no personal reunions to speak of; they are crowded entirely with volunteer postal workers from both sides, handling the mail, except for Heaven/Hell concordances, which are crowded entirely with angels and demons who don't like each other and want to fight. Mail may be sent more than one step when this is concordantly convenient - for instance, if you are sending letters from Hell to Limbo, you will want to use Hell/Limbo concordances, but you can also attempt to send things c/o fairies. Adding steps reduces reliability, principally because it necessitates safely storing the mail until the relevant second concordance appears (but does allow Hell/Heaven mailing to get through more reliably than trying to sneak a package through the fighting). When a concordance ends, everyone in it is shunted to their side and any objects still stuck in the concordance cease to exist.

The Future:

In addition to the above magic system, Daevinity is set in the year 2159. Luna and Mars are both colonized, as are assorted space stations, and intra-system space travel is fairly routine and fast, but there is no faster than light travel or communication and we have left most other technological and cultural changes underspecified so far.

Re: Daevinity Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 3:36 pm
by Lambda
Alicorn wrote:When a concordance ends, [...] any objects still stuck in the concordance cease to exist.

This seems exploitable by demons who want to dispose of things and don't mind annoying the angels.

Also, how useful are fairies for lifting things out of planetary gravity wells?

Re: Daevinity Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:14 pm
by Alicorn
The concordance is not big enough, frequent enough, or conveniently located enough to be a good disposal mechanism compared to black holes or even a decent lake of fire.

Fairies are just fine at lifting things out of planetary gravity wells.

Re: Daevinity Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:29 pm
by Kappa
Hmm, but given demonic antipathy to angels, I can't believe no demons have ever thought of disposing of their overused black holes into Heavenly concordances. Maybe they just don't have the technology to transport them yet.

Re: Daevinity Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:30 pm
by Bluelantern
Ok so a few questions:

Do people in non-mortal planes appear with clothes? Do they appear near people that lived or died nearby? Do they appear in a... Expansive pattern? Do children age? Do old people stay old forever? How about missing limbs?

Is there anything preventing from the limbo-gift to be stolen, destroyed, lost or otherwise made useless to the owner? The ability to self-maintenance is capable to sustain purposeful damage?

Re: Daevinity Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 7:03 pm
by AndaisQ
Could you draw a circle with your finger on an exceptionally dusty floor, or is "absence of dust" not a proper medium?

Does the aesthetic neatness of a circle affect its effectiveness?

Do natural daeva have personality traits associated with their categorization (angels as "people who change things" vs demons as "people who make things" vs fairies as whatever fairies are)? Can they do the parlor tricks?

Re: Daevinity Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 7:20 pm
by Alicorn
Black holes are hard to move around and it's not worth the trouble to moderately annoy a small number of angels for several days.

People appear in the clothes they died in. If that's nothing, they appear in nothing. Limboites can get clothes the same way they can get bacon from the appropriate places in appropriate buildings.

You are no more likely to appear near people who in life were geographically close to you than near people who were not. Daeva have plenty of their own languages that no mortals speak, a Limboite could land near people with whom they share no language, etc.

I don't know what an "expansive pattern" is.

Ex-summoner daeva and new Limboites who died between the ages of approximately 18 and 40 appear that age and stay that way. They have four limbs (until wings are added if applicable) and are in good physical health. People who die older than 40 appear at whatever age between 18-40 they felt to be their prime. Children age up to 18 and then stop.

Sufficiently portable limbo-gifts may be stolen and do not necessarily find their way back to their person, but may not be destroyed, and they can withstand deliberate damage in more or less the same way the people do.

Absence of dust would work fine.

Neatness does not affect it unless it changes the meaning of the words or ceases to be approximately a "circle" (by being closer to an ellipse or a pentagon or something).

Daeva can do the parlor tricks but have even less reason to bother than humans. They do slightly psychologically center around the traits associated with their categorization but not by enough that you'd notice it without a sharp personality test and a big sample size.

Re: Daevinity Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 7:54 pm
by Lambda
How does the "good health" thing interact with Alzheimer's, lobotomies, epilepsy, etc.?

Re: Daevinity Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:08 pm
by Alicorn
People do not have any of those conditions while not being live humans.

Re: Daevinity Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:35 pm
by Bluelantern
How much criticism/suggestion do you want from this thread?

I feel really obligated to say that Limbo's description sounds like a huge potential hell than just "dissapointment" that Cam described.

Things like houses and dogs that, in order to remain in recognizable working order in their normal forms, would normally require maintenance and shopping trips and outside input and so on, do not require these things in Limbo (except informationally: your internet will not work and you cannot call people on your phone).

Does the thing needs to be something that the person previously owned, interacted with or was aware of? Does it take account on the fact that the person will arrive in a place without relevant infra-structure?

I don't know what an "expansive pattern" is.

It means that if you mapped the area where Limboites appear, said area would tend to expand over time, with few-to-none Limboites showing up inside the borders.