Setting: Knots

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Setting: Knots

Postby diagrapher » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:49 am

So far this is mostly a magic system with a little bit of worldbuilding around it

Magic:

Becoming a magician:
Occasionally- around 1/10,000 people ever have it happen to them- someone spontaneously becomes a magician. It is also possible to turn someone into a magician with a spell. I feel like there should be other ways to become a magician, too, but haven't figured any more out. A magician initially gains a random quantity of magic, and get more with a spell.

When someone gains magic, they lose a portion of their ability to communicate with language (sometimes called their "voice") in exchange. The more magic they get, the more of their voice they lose. The first portion of voice to be lost is the ability to lie. The second is the ability to speak non-cryptically; powerful magicians speak only in riddles. Very few magicians lose more of their voice than that.

Casting a spell:
To cast a spell, a magician needs to construct a spell knot- an arrangement of knotted thread, wire and beads which can be thought of as representing an "instruction to magic" in the "language of magic". Developing a spell knot can be a complicated process. A magician can sense when a spell knot they have made is usable, and can cast it by speaking the instruction it represents. The usability of a spell knot is constrained by:
  • Validity; a spell knot which is ungrammatical, effects something nonexistent, or asks magic to do something beyond its power such as making someone is the rightful king of Dehuln can't be cast.
  • Cooldown; a magician cannot cast a spell twice too close together in time. Cooldown times vary widely from spell to spell but are never shorter than a day. A spell which is too similar can inherit a portion of its heat, but even effectively purely aesthetic differences can sometimes be enough to reduce cross-spell cooldown time to seconds. A spell knot which is "hot" produces a sound as though its wire components were taut and vibrating.
  • Wantedness; a spell can only be cast if magic "wants" to obey the instruction. The extent to which this anthropomorphism is genuine is debated, and the criteria which determine whether magic wants something are not well understood. They have been summarized, however, as "magic likes complicating things and dislikes simplifying things, likes making things possible and dislikes making things easy", and this generally suffices for practical purposes.

Other stuff:

There is a totalitarian kingdom backed by an immortal wizard, in which disapproval of the king cannot be communicated aloud or in writing. The tech level is modern.
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Re: Setting: Knots

Postby Alicorn » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:32 pm

Does the loss of voice apply only to spoken language? Only to symbolic language (spoken, written, and sign) but leaves alone pointing at stuff? Can they use riddles repetitively in a way that encodes consistent simple meaning (silly example: "does a bear shit in the woods" consistently meaning "yes")?
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Re: Setting: Knots

Postby diagrapher » Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:32 pm

The loss of "voice" definitely does not only affect spoken language; the term "voice" is metaphorical. I think maybe weaker magicians can use of repetitive riddles to encode stuff, medium-power-level magicians can point, and the most powerful ones can't even do that?
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Re: Setting: Knots

Postby Alicorn » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:50 pm

"Blink once for yes"? "If you do X I will assume you agree with what I just said"? Check boxes on checklists? Make significant facial expressions? Start randomly yelling or whispering while riddling in suggestive ways? Speak in outright cipher which can in fact just be decoded if someone cares to put in the time?
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Re: Setting: Knots

Postby diagrapher » Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:04 pm

Alicorn wrote:"Blink once for yes"? "If you do X I will assume you agree with what I just said"? Check boxes on checklists? Make significant facial expressions? Start randomly yelling or whispering while riddling in suggestive ways? Speak in outright cipher which can in fact just be decoded if someone cares to put in the time?


Besides the cypher, those all seem about eqivalent to pointing? And I'd say the cypher is fine unless they expect the recipient to already know it, although especially easy-to-break cyphers mihght only be available to weaker wizards.
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Re: Setting: Knots

Postby Kappa » Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:22 pm

...hmm, so does that mean that you can constrain a post-pointing wizard's behaviour by saying "if you do X I will assume you mean to communicate Y" where Y is something you expect they probably want to communicate and X is something you don't want them to do? XD
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Re: Setting: Knots

Postby diagrapher » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:55 pm

Kappa wrote:...hmm, so does that mean that you can constrain a post-pointing wizard's behaviour by saying "if you do X I will assume you mean to communicate Y" where Y is something you expect they probably want to communicate and X is something you don't want them to do? XD


No; they can do whatever they like so long as it isn't actually intended as communication, even if they genuinely expect someone to misinterpret it as such.
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Re: Setting: Knots

Postby Kappa » Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:00 pm

That sounds like it would require the wizard to manage their own intentions in a way I'm not sure most people could actually do, but then I guess it's hardly going to be a common situation.
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Re: Setting: Knots

Postby Unbitwise » Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:06 pm

To cast a spell, a magician needs to construct a spell knot- an arrangement of knotted thread, wire and beads which can be thought of as representing an "instruction to magic" in the "language of magic". … A magician can sense when a spell knot they have made is usable, and can cast it by speaking the instruction it represents.

So, every spell has a physical knot form and a spoken form? Does the magician automatically know the correspondence as part of the construction process?

Do you have to keep the knot within some range to use it?
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Re: Setting: Knots

Postby diagrapher » Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:32 pm

Unbitwise wrote:
To cast a spell, a magician needs to construct a spell knot- an arrangement of knotted thread, wire and beads which can be thought of as representing an "instruction to magic" in the "language of magic". … A magician can sense when a spell knot they have made is usable, and can cast it by speaking the instruction it represents.

So, every spell has a physical knot form and a spoken form? Does the magician automatically know the correspondence as part of the construction process?

Do you have to keep the knot within some range to use it?


The spoken form of a spell doesn't have to be in any particular language or worded any particular way, so long as it's a paraphrasing of the knot. I think a magician needs to be in touching a knot to use it.
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