32 posts in this topic

I've been working for some time on a "magic" system for my universe. This system was built to support a more mystical element of my story for readers, but I needed to understand it's limitations clearly as the author.

 

So, I'm wondering. If I give you guys three rules, could you tell me, if you had those abilities–what would you be able to do? 

 

Some background. In my universe, there is a discovery of a particle that effects the status of elements. Meaning, these particles are what tells elements what they are and where they are (imagine the code in a computer. Change it and you change the program itself). 

 

Here are the abilities: Manipulators can...

  1. Aggravate/Adjust the location of these particles inside atoms, resulting in the movement of the entire particle.
  2. Can force a shift of particles from one element to another. 
  3. Repair decaying atoms and rejuvenate them by renewing their structure from another source.

The constraints (Most important part and they correspond with their listed power. 1 to 1, 2 to 2)

  1. Aggravation means that you can speed up or slow down particles, resulting in hot/cold. (restrictions tie into #2 as to cascades) Particles can be moved if their location is changed, but only a specific distance. So you could move an object 100 kilometers away, then another 100, then another 100. It is restricted to 100 kilometers per shift
  2. Shifting an element is easier if it cascades. So you could take a block of 26 Fe: Iron and shift it fairly quickly to 25 Mn: Magnesium or 27 Co: Cobalt.  But changing a whole block of composite stone would likely fail because of different particles. You could change pieces of it though, one at a time.
  3. Decaying atoms take the energy from other compatible sources. So a plant could be kept alive if you have another plant near it that you transfer energy from.

Two more things. Adjusting the particles is tasking, meaning that burnout can happen quickly the less training and skill you have. Also, Manipulators live for a long time, roughly 250 years because of their abilities to rejuvenate. But they go insane. There is no known cure.

 

This is a lot, but if you have questions, just send them my way. I'm excited to hear what awesome stuff you could do with this!

 

Have at it

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So...nuclear fusion mages? This sounds fun. I'd imagine that more mundane atomic chemistry, or at least the closest equivalent possible given the technology level, should be fairly advanced in this world, with properties of metals held as state secrets. And this sounds like it could get pretty badass in battle - imagine shifting entire swathes of oxygen in the air around your enemies into fluorine. In fact I'd suggest that you constrain it only to the elements to either side, because then the most skilled would be those who could keep a cascade of elements across the periodic table contained without it exploding - and it adds an element of risk. Any elemental property in between is going to show for a second, so, for example, it's a good idea not to linger on chlorine too long or it's going to spill out and scorch your lungs. It would also create a kind of alchemical chemistry where there's a manipulator controlling the reaction with brute force.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a question: what is used for money is this world? Gold must be cheap as any Manipulator would be able to replicate it. Some complicated alloy? But it sounds to me some skilled Manipulators would be still able to make money out of other materials. I think you need to add some restrictions.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Aleksiel That isn't an issue yet in this world. Precious metals are used, as well as extensive bartering.

Keep in mind that manipulators would need pure platinum or mercury to create gold. They could take other ores and work them up the table, but it would be an intensive process requiring extensive knowledge. As it stands, its currently not an issue. Though it could be. I think that would make a unique impact on the world, how they operate. What do you think about leaving it to see how it impacts the world eventually?

@Swimmingly those are amusing thoughts. I might want to review how long transfers take place. It might just depend on the amount of force Manipulators put on pure objects. The oxygen in the air is a good one, but it might not be super effective. I don't have definites yet, but in my head, I'm not thinking gases are as easy because they're dispersed. There's a lot of stuff in the air. Now the oxygen in someone's lungs...that could be a problem for the person.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Easy - use minted coinage backed economically by some kind of rare wood - say, mahogany. Otherwise, you could add some 'sticking points' in the system - elements that arbitrarily require ridiculous amounts of power to change into.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright, so focusing on your original question, though I still need some clarifications to know if I imagine it as you meant it to be.

 

If I was a Manipulator, I would be able to decay one thing while using it to repair other, yes?  Then could I decay a wall if I was to use that energy to fix my spoiled food? I could get the money behind the wall and a nice meal. Though it might be easier to just melt the wall down... Would the Manipulator burn his/her hand if they heat something to that point or may be they don't need to touch something to manipulate it, so it's not an issue?

 

Also, if I took someone by the hand and cut it, would I be able to change all iron is his blood to say cobalt and thus kill them? Depending on what cups and plates the people in this world use, I could sneak in someone's home and make sure they got slowly poisoned while they eat and drink oblivious to what I've done. Or kill an entire village via water poisoning.

 

Right now I can easily imagine Manipulators as silent assassins and skilled thieves, though I don't know if that's to your liking. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What if you can only act on "pure" elements - molecules with only a single type of atom? Then, you can use certain things, such as O2 or pure carbon, but you can cascade a single lump of that across the periodic table to the desired element - once you stop and the free atoms feact with other elements, you can't affect them anymore, or can only affect them to move them, not transform them. Also, how are you dealing with molar mass? Does the extra energy come out of nowhere.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This actually sounds very interesting. I could see Manipulators being used as technicians in nuclear power plants, as they could monitor and create more deposits of uranium when needed. Also, if there are Manipulators who are very good at delicate control, they could rejuvenate the uranium atoms so that they take longer to decay, basically making them into rechargeable batteries.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know, this would mean that, given a few bright manipulators/inventors with manipulator friends, once you got over that little bump of discovering electricity, you would have virtually unlimited amounts of any rare metal you might need - neodium, uranium, ytterbium, etc.

Edited by Swimmingly
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Swimmingly the idea of special minted coins is awesome! It definitely could come in handy later. I'll answer your questions in sequence.

As of the story I'm writing, special minting isn't an issue yet. The Manipulators themselves hardly understand what's going on, commoners less so. I don't think they'll need sticky points. I'll adjust it so that after you manipulate an element two or three times, it becomes unstable from the changes. It could settle, but maybe it could take months, leaving a residue effect. Also, elements that have other elements present disrupt the process. Meaning, you could change some iron in a composite metal, but if there were specks of gold in it, you would have trouble making much of anything until you separated them, requiring time and energy. But you could shift parts at a time. Or, like you said, shift large bubbles of oxygen to something else, wrecking havoc. 

Molar mass will come from the elements around it. If you're working with 25 FE and you shift it up three times to 28 CU, the new copper will have taken mass from the iron. Meaning it would decrease the total amount of something you have (Iron is x amount big, Copper is not x-3 amount big) if you see what I mean. I'll admit I may not have a complete understand of the mass, so correct me if I'm wrong.

With the adjustment to the shifting ability, manipulators will still be incredibly versatile in invention and industry. In my story, there could be some holdups involved with their progress. More on that some other time.

 

@Aleksiel the decay of one object needs to be similar to the other object. Using your example, food would need to be renewed using similar food. The wall could be decayed if it were renewing another stone. In my head, I was considering the possibilities that being able to adjust the particles in an element would open, and sustaining one particle at the cost of another made sense (taking something and putting it somewhere else)

They can burn their hands, if they are not focusing or unprepared. It's already happened in my book.

Changing Iron to Cobalt in the blood would be difficult because there are so many other elements stopping the effects. In small amounts, yes, but too small for it to be effective in the middle of a fight. Maybe to poison someone though.

The Manipulators could be assassins and thieves. There's a few reasons they won't be immediately, PM me if you want more info on that, but it doesn't have bearing on this thread.

 

@Chrono that's a possibility, if they reach that stage. Good idea. What do you think about the impact of them on engineering?

 

Ok, with those questions/comments (hopefully) answered, I'd like to put some more adjustments in place.

  1. Shifting particles is now not restricted to only moving them 100 kilometers away. It is now to specific locations that are 7 kilometers apart (meaning the places they shift TO are 7k apart, they can shift to the closest one. These points form triangular shifting locations across the surface of the planet [this is tied to a larger principle that I am still working on].) This requires incredible concentration and can leave them drained, but can be easier if a point is used for frequent shifting (meaning it's used by most manipulators). It is not currently understood by my characters, but I want to know what you would do with it if you could.
    1. I should note that it is possible to shift into the air or underground. The consequences should be obvious if you mess up which direction you're shifting.
  2. I already mentioned the switch of destabilizing elements after two or three shifts. This leaves them effectively unable to shift for several months. Theoretically, you could, over the course of years, make gold from iron. But it would be difficult.
  3. The ability to effect particles will leave the parent when they have a child. (This adds some interesting implications for the idea of choosing when to pass on the ability)

This is long, hopefully it isn't overwhelming. Thanks for your thoughts so far, I'm eager to hear more of them!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That could have some worrying consequences considering the rate of infant mortality in the kind of setting you describe. What happens if you die while possessing the ability? Does it shift to the next heir? It occurs to me also that if, for example, the ability somehow became deadly a la Shaod, it would eventually kill off every person in the world in a stable population.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you die with the ability, it's lost. The particle manipulation has science behind it (more on that some other time) but it will shift from parent to first child (usually). There are some occasions where twins will both have the ability.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, if a firstborn child of a manipulator is miscarried or dies in childbirth, that strain is forever lost? Are the lines renewed often? Does the ability crop up in people other than the main lines? Because, otherwise, this ability must be very new in the population, within only a few generation.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Swimmingly there's a lot that will go into the background of births in the stories themselves.

So, what do you think you would do with these powers?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Build a fortress into the side of a mountain. I can keep the walls strong by eroding tunnels back into the stone and using the energy to repair the front. Figure out how to flash-heat huge amounts of metal to liquid temperature, then keep boulders of the stuff strapped to the top of the walls. Research spericides and contraception very carefully.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You say there's a science behind it, but how exactly does one lose their abilities when they conceive a child? If a male Manipulator impregnates a girl, he suddenly loses his abilities? I could accept this happens to a woman, because hormones, but there's nothing different in a man when he's going to be a father. Many Manipulators probably won't want a child until they are over 30, males probably even older. Also, it would be an extreme loss for two Manipulators to have a child together. Do Manipulators lose the ability immediately after conception or after the child is actually born?

 

You basically have a fixed number of Manipulators in the world, but they seem extremely easy to be wiped out. Kill a pregnant Manipulator or a woman having a Manipulator's baby and that line is lost. Pregnancy seems like something that should be kept top secret and women with Manipulators babies should be guarded.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Aleksiel I can see your point, it does touch on plot elements in stories down the road. Much of it has to do with the gene's reaction to the particle. More on that some other time.

 

These questions you guys are bringing up are definitely being considered, but I'll admit, we've gotten off track. The plot elements and science behind it are what will drive emotions and characters and–if you want–we can chat about that in another thread, I'll start it up. Those kinds of points about scarcity and it's effect on mindsets are true, they'll drive economies and ideas if their population ever gets to that point.

 

Having said that, currently, I was just trying to flesh out a bit more of what could be done from other people's perspectives. I'm not so much worried about the plot impact as I am what you guys could imagine a manipulator is capable of. Build incredible buildings by transforming the elements? Transport heavy objects hundreds of kilometers in several days instead of weeks? Heat air balloons on their own? Burn down a building and walk out unscathed? 

 

All that to say, I'm taking these ideas down and thanks for pointing things out, but what would you do with the powers, if you were a manipulator?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, if the decay thing seems more useful than the rejuvenation thing - you might want to take a leaf out of voodoo's book (or The Name of the Wind) and say that to draw rejuvenation from a thing, you need to hold a part of it. That way I can only drain my enemy's life-force away if I have a piece of their hair, and if you made the size of the thing you hold that was part of the other thing scale effectiveness, then perhaps you need a significant amount of their hair before you can do anything more than make them a bit tired and slow to heal, while the opposite happens to you.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a good idea. Or instead of hair or some object, you have to be close to or touching someone else to pull power. In my mind, I'm thinking of a man who's running, he stops and finds someone else, taking their muscle energy. That guy would feel wiped out and tired, but would recover, the manipulator could keep running. Things like that. If given enough time, one could heal a mortal wound, but it would take a lot from the other person, possibly killing them.

 

I was also considering the impact a manipulator could have on farming. Drawing energy to a failing crop, sustaining them longer or through the winter months. What do you think?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the engineering bit, I'd say that once Manipulators start figuring out that they've just invented nuclear fission/fusion, we're going to start seeing a lot of nuclear power plants, maybe even nukes. Since manipulators can also shift atomic position, they could also become human 3D printers, able to create or repair parts (alternatively, they could take a moldable substance such as clay, wood, etc., and change its element). Replacement rifle parts, ammunition, etc, would instantly become very cheap, since you could just plop a hunk of clay or wood in front of a Manipulator and they could shape and change the element of the material. 

 

I'm guessing that in order for the Manipulator to change an element of a material, they would first have to know what the material is. More experienced Manipulators would probably be able to figure that out on their own, while novice Manipulators would have to have either a more experienced Manipulator or trained professional do it for them.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a good idea. Or instead of hair or some object, you have to be close to or touching someone else to pull power. In my mind, I'm thinking of a man who's running, he stops and finds someone else, taking their muscle energy. That guy would feel wiped out and tired, but would recover, the manipulator could keep running. Things like that. If given enough time, one could heal a mortal wound, but it would take a lot from the other person, possibly killing them.

 

I was also considering the impact a manipulator could have on farming. Drawing energy to a failing crop, sustaining them longer or through the winter months. What do you think?

Depends on whether the Manipulators are of a societal class where they would stoop to putting in sustained effort to something so mundane as growing food. Are they lords? Hermits? Something all their own? Do they spend their days ensconced in dim rooms, shaping wondrous creations, or do they blow in walls and knock about enemies? Basically, why would they, and why wouldn't they?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Chronos yeah those are some solid ideas. How would they get to the point where they understand exactly what they're doing though, nukes are some serious tech? I've made the rules out of story, but manipulators don't necessarily understand the implications of what they're doing in story. So, maybe let's pull off some of the technological edge. Because they'd need to build the framework for all this stuff. Keep in mind, there aren't many of them. I don't think mass production would work well with them.

 

@Swimmingly good questions. I'm exploring some of these things, but lets just say there is a centralized group of them, about 100 that are focuses on researching their own condition. Others are scattered around the island continents and they have no idea why they can do what they do. So keep exploring a few of those tangents.

 

Here's another idea. If you can heat things around you with sustained focus and effort, could you survive the extreme frozen wastelands to the north with relative ease. I guess you'd need something to eat though...

 

Or, could you use your ability to move particles to hold a bubble of air around you underwater?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, if you had a community of them in the middle of a frozen wasteland, with a rotation keeping the fields alive by draining heat from the ground below, you could reasonably expect them to do all right, depending on the effort required. Maybe if anything atomically heavier than iron requires heat to produce it from an equivalent mass, while anything lighter than iron produces heat when you transform it? Then you have an interesting limitation, tied into the cultural mythos around iron, and there's a driving image to it: the manipulator with his forge-fire and heat-eating water barrels, and in his hands the lump of matter as it changes, setting the water hissing as moves towards iron, then dimming the fire as it moves away from it, drawing power.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a great mental image. It'd be a cool piece of lore too. I know things get hotter as they shift. It would make sense that a shift down could result in more heat because it has excess particles drifting off. And your image gives a good idea of the time it takes to do this. Not hours, but definitely not instantaneous either.

It would be a small village to the north, a few manipulators who only understood parts of their power trying to live with others, becoming valuable members of the community. I think the picture attached here too.

That's one super solid idea.

What else? Perpetually keeping their own drinks hot. Useful skill...

post-11161-0-79298400-1405526527_thumb.j

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, I see. Well, I'd be interested to see at what level of technology your world is at. Middle Ages? Renaissance? Industrial Revolution? It sounds like Manipulators are very rare. One of the plot points of your story could be a terrible accident: a Manipulator tries to make something mundane, but the process is bungled and instead he creates what basically amounts to a nuke. Once world powers start hearing about this accident, it could go two ways: they either start thinking that Manipulation is way too dangerous and start killing them off, or they see the implications of such a powerful weapon. Your choice entirely, but some food for thought.

 

On another topic, Manipulators could be used to test the validity of gold. If they can't shift it to platinum or another similar material with ease, it's a fake substance. It seems very trivial, but testing the validity of gold was a very common and serious problem back then. On the other hand, Manipulators can be used in the black market to make "luxury items" for the cheap. 

 

You can tell I'm still very set on nuclear crap happening, LOL. Either way, I think it would be very interesting to see Manipulators from across the world being used in different ways. Your tribal village trying to survive in the north, urban manipulators scratching out a living, manipulators in the royal courts. Heck, you could even have highly trained manipulators working with scientists to create new breakthroughs! Imagine how easier it would be to discover new elements if you have a manipulator working with you.

 

Also, Swimmingly, that idea is fantastic. 

 

EDIT: When you guys were talking about forges, the only thing I could think of was this.

Edited by Chrono
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.