Questions about Visitor

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Questions about Visitor

Postby DanielH » Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:11 pm

At the moment, there does not appear to be a Visitor worldbuilding thread. Thus, I’m asking the questions the relevant glowfic raise here.

  • How much of somebody’s name do you need? For Cat Max, full name Maxwell Wax, would just Max count? We saw that the entire first name counted when Savanna vasalized herself; what about Mr. Wax? Mr. W.? Initials M. W.?
  • How can one acquire names? Could guessing work if you have a reasonable amount of evidence (“The notebook you’re holding says ‘Property of Isabella Swan’ on the front cover” or “You look exactly like three other people I know named Isabella Swan”)? Some evidence (“You look exactly like a bunch of people who go by ‘Bella’, but that doesn’t work with the language you’re speaking. Beila?”)? A baby name book and a lot of time?
  • What counts as somebody’s true name? Would Stella’s Joker, who legally changed his name, be Alice, Delaney, or both? What about the various Bells left on doorsteps who don’t even know their original names, even though name attractors make it clear they aren’t using those names now? What about Etty before the spell ended?
  • It’s implied that debt or betting can cause vasalization. How does that work? How much debt is enough?
  • Do you have any details hammered out about how sorcery works, besides sometimes but not always using diagrams?
  • What about gates and other methods of travel between the fae and mortal worlds?
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Re: Questions about Visitor

Postby Alicorn » Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:33 pm

I do the worldbuilding threads where I am fairly confident that I'm not going to need to backpedal. So far, this means worlds for Incandescence. While Visitor and its original worldbuilding are mine, Promise is going to feature in Effulgence, and kappa has stronger and stranger and more inflexible worldbuilding opinions about things we work on together than Aestrix does. So I don't want to write the thread like I can at this time be authoritative for Effulgence purposes, but here's how I'm working in sandboxes and the short story:

Full names are not required; nicknames like "Max" or "Bella" which are strict shortenings (or for that matter just one's middle name or whatever) still count if you know them to be a name for the person but will not snap into mental place if Max, say, used the word "maximize". You can also refer to another person sharing your name relatively safely (Savannah in the relevant sandbox could have said she had a classmate at school named Savannah, and Promise would not have received magical tip-offs that this was also her interlocutor's name). Forming the hypothesis that someone's actual name is their name suffices as long as you're entertaining the hypothesis but it's easier to forget about than it is to forget a confirmed name. Initials aren't enough unless they sound exactly like your name or something ("Jay"). In your given examples, all Bellas would be figured out, Beila would be in hot water, and the baby name book would eventually crack it if they're named something in it.

The first valid name you have is your name forever and ever, even if you forget it or never use it or despise it deep in your soul or change it legally or something. There can be exceptions if you are somehow subject to a magical effect which alters your name (like in Spirited Away, or that one time in Pact) but not otherwise. If you do not have a valid name and nothing special is going on, the first person to call you a name and mean to name you it names you that and then that's your name for Visitor magic purposes. So Alice is "Delaney", Nika is "Belinda", Etty is "Odette" because magical name effect. It is possible not to be aware of your own name.

The food thing is the simplest form of debt-related vassalization. Other kinds are complicated and I don't have them thoroughly hashed out, but taking something without having the theoretical ability to give it back is a key concept and it's why food is the big one. (Just straight up destroying somebody else's shit doesn't have this problem.)

Sorcery is very much a work in progress. Spells come in huge numbers of variations that a sorcerer must select based on conditions near where they're casting, such as ambient light and temperature and the "harmonics" to which Promise has occasionally referred in sandboxes and other such fiddly things. Experienced sorcerers can learn to maintain a general awareness of these things and pull off spells on the fly. Some spells require or become dramatically easier under conditions like ingredients being around or diagrams being drawn but they will not tend to consume these things in the casting unless it's as a side effect (e.g. if you are conjuring up fire things nearby may catch).

Gates and tears are the two ways between mortal world and fairyland. Tears occur naturally and gates are made via sorcery.
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Re: Questions about Visitor

Postby jalapeno_dude » Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:32 pm

So Alice is "Delaney"
Oh, that should be fun...
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Re: Questions about Visitor

Postby Tamien » Mon Oct 06, 2014 10:54 pm

Alicorn wrote:The first valid name you have is your name forever and ever, even if you forget it or never use it or despise it deep in your soul or change it legally or something. There can be exceptions if you are somehow subject to a magical effect which alters your name (like in Spirited Away, or that one time in Pact) but not otherwise. If you do not have a valid name and nothing special is going on, the first person to call you a name and mean to name you it names you that and then that's your name for Visitor magic purposes. So Alice is "Delaney", Nika is "Belinda", Etty is "Odette" because magical name effect. It is possible not to be aware of your own name.


If the name is the first thing someone calls you with the intent of naming you, and you are from a culture where family names come before given names, and so when you are born the first name someone says or writes with the intent to name you is your family name, is your True Name your family name or your given name?

My parents don't agree on how they came up with my middle name. It is pretty much just a meaningless sequence of letters that they thought would be pretty. They can't even agree on a pronunciation - I have one I prefer, but each of them say it differently. Furthermore, I have, since I first became aware of my own name, consistently and adamantly held that my middle name should not be capitalized. On my birth certificate, my name is in all-caps. If it had been my first name instead, would any of these things affect what my True Name is for Visitor magic purposes? Would my True Name be whatever pronunciation it was that happened to have been used first, and in all caps since that's presumably the first writing of it, or would my True Name just be "this string of letters, regardless of pronunciation or capitalization"?

I have a friend whose parents named him after his grandfather for Jewish Culture Reasons while fully intending to never actually use that name to refer to him. He has gone by an abbreviation of his middle name all his life. Which name is his True Name for Visitor magic purposes - his legal first name which I am not sure his parents have actually ever called him, but which is on his birth certificate, or his middle name?

Could parents use something like that as a protection against Visitor magic? That is to say, pick out a name for their child with no intention of ever using it, name them that name, and then call them something else and never ever tell anyone (including the child themself) what their 'True' Name is? Is there a downside to doing that?
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Re: Questions about Visitor

Postby Alicorn » Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:11 pm

Arbitrary subsets of your name work - a standard Bell could be got via "Swan" - so if your surname comes first that doesn't matter.

Either of your pronunciations would work, regardless of whether the pretty letters form your first or middle name.

The magic doesn't care about birth certificates, so if they didn't say his full name aloud when he was being named it's not his name.

There is no particular downside to doing that and it would work.
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Re: Questions about Visitor

Postby DanielH » Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:25 pm

Which is exactly why I never understood belief in true name magic; if a name can be a weapon, this is the sort of worksround people would always use. I guess I wasn’t coubting on a Queen, or God, or anyone/anything else who would know the name anyway.

If a fairy were to make cookies for me (or a local equivalent), leave them sitting on her plate on her counter to cool, and I were to eat one from there, what sort of claims could have snuck in?
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Re: Questions about Visitor

Postby Alicorn » Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:36 pm

If a fairy bakes you cookies and you eat them they can claim you as a vassal, and so can fairies involved at whatever remove in the production of the ingredients. They might not know it (sort of like the Queen doesn't specifically know Promise exists), and weak or indirect claims can wear off (strong direct food-related vassalization, hand to mouth, doesn't). If a hundred years ago somebody owned some tree and now it's growing wild and Promise takes a fruit off of it she's almost certainly safe; humans are more vulnerable.
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Re: Questions about Visitor

Postby DanielH » Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:58 pm

So hand-to-mouth feeding guarantees no further vassalization beyond the obvious because it’s so much stronger, but the other claims still technically exist? I’m still not sure I get why the method I said isn’t a safe way to feed one’s vassals.
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Re: Questions about Visitor

Postby Alicorn » Tue Oct 07, 2014 8:23 am

Unambiguity is important in both order-giving and food-giving.
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Re: Questions about Visitor

Postby Endovior » Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:02 am

DanielH wrote:So hand-to-mouth feeding guarantees no further vassalization beyond the obvious because it’s so much stronger, but the other claims still technically exist? I’m still not sure I get why the method I said isn’t a safe way to feed one’s vassals.


Well... where did the flour used to make the cookies come from?

As I understand it, if the answer is something like 'the estate farm down the road', then the lady of that estate certainly has a claim on anyone that eats anything made from that flour. Or the farmers and millers might, but they're probably already bound by their lady, and thus probably can't exercise any claims they might incidentally obtain. Generally speaking, sensible fairies would not accept flour from that estate, unless there exists some formality by which food may be exchanged a ritual way that absolves the taker from any magical claims present upon the food (similar to the ritual transference of debt or vassalage; it'd make sense, and allow certain kinds of economic activity to work more smoothly, but it might also just be the case that you can't safely buy or sell food because of the possibility of snarled ownership chains).

If the answer is something like 'the fairy hand-ground the flour from wild grains she picked herself', it's a lot safer, but it's still technically possible that the lady could see the fairy gathering wild grains, speculate that they may have grown from seeds blown on the wind from her farm, and then use that as claim-leverage in the event any unsafe feeding happens. It's unlikely, and a weak claim like that would probably be easier to contest than some stronger claims, but there's no sense leaving yourself open to the possibility. I'm inclined to suspect that there's some similar kind of ritual performed regularly by fairies to protect them from spurious wild-growing-food-related claims (say, calling out a challenge for any purported owner of this random food item to announce themselves, or forfeit their claim), but that's pure speculation.
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