Dec 09, 2018 6:26 PM
Adelene and Sadde in Milliways
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"...I suppose that's no worse than figuring out I'm fictional."

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"The amount of time passing in their world compared to here is probably all different anyway."

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"Yep, I'm on day three here, which isn't unusual at all."

They retreat to a secluded booth and take the opportunity to summon two more characters in similar bursts of brown sparkles - the young woman in the oversized hoodie instantiates a glass of pear juice and sips at it quietly, but the other, feral-looking one makes a brief scene, hissing at the hoodie-wearer and climbing into the rafters to find a hidden place to lurk.

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And the Saddes converse for an uncertain amount of time.

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And, eventually in multiple unrelated senses, they return to the bar, kobold and hoodie-wearer in tow. "Better?"

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Sadde is hugging Glam and patting him on the back. "His world is terrible."

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"Yeah."

The kobold gives Glam a 'would you like me to sit on your lap and you can pet me' look; the young woman leans sideways into Adelene, not quite making eye contact but still looking sympathetic.

"This is Dusk, by the way."

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Glam, not being terribly versed in kobold body language, does not get that. "Nice to meet you, Dusk." He looks at Adelene. "Do you know if being turned into a vampire would do anything bad to my powers? From her description it'd do something good to them but given that our universes are held up by narrative causality..."

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Dusk nods an acknowledgement; the kobold hangs out nearby instead of pushing the issue.

"It hasn't been decided yet in the general case - they could decide that being a vampire interacts badly with the parts of your brain that relate to your powers, but they could just as easily decide that it doesn't. For you in particular Pedro does point out that vampiric super-senses are very squinty."

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"Oh. Right."

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"That's a pretty annoying limitation, you know." She looks at Ade again. "So. What are we here for, then?"

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They take a moment to consider their wording.

"Okay, so, hopefully you've noticed that even though you're fictional I don't think you're morally irrelevant. That goes for my own characters, too, and more so since I have a higher degree of responsibility for them."

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"Yes?"

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"Lurker's take on what it means for her to exist is that stories about her get written and read; what happens in them matters, but more in the sense that she's herself in them rather than that good things happen to her or even that she survives the story. And we're running into a problem where there's not a lot of stories she can be in - she doesn't come in human, or most humanlike species, and while I can bring her out of her world as a kobold, she's not very stable if she's away from her tribe for a long time, and being with her tribe limits what she can do while she's away in some inconvenient ways. What we'd like to do is be able to bring other characters into her world, especially as native versions, but her world has a magic system that I made up, and it makes perfect sense to me, but I haven't been able to figure out how to describe it to any of the other authors, which means that any character who'd need to get magic to be instantiated properly in the world - which is most of them - can't be. And you're good at asking questions about magic stuff."

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"...that's an interesting concept."

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"Um. I mean, okay, I guess?"

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"I do have a basic overview that I can start with if you like? And I do know the underpinnings, mostly, I'm just having trouble figuring out how to organize the information at all."

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"Sure. We can probably do random questioning but having somewhere to start definitely helps."

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"Okay, so, to start with, there's two parts; one is being a mage and the other is having any particular sort of magic. Being a mage comes with a few things, the most noticeable one being a sot of 'casting sense', which I've been modeling as a field that the mage can extend into and through things in three dimensions and then anything within that field, they get a sort of synesthetic awareness of all the physics stuff that's going on, but no actual translation of what any of it means - there are patterns that are learnable, so an experienced mage can go 'okay, I want to look at this bit for temperature and that bit for light hitting it', but for any kind of detail work it's a good idea to actually apply whatever conditions you care about to the item in question and see exactly how that affects this particular thing. Also, in Lurker's world souls are real - and animals also have them - and if you extend your casting sense into something with a soul you can see its thoughts and emotions and things, though, again, with no translation of what what you're seeing means."

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"Um."

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"What he's thinking is that that last part is a liiiittle bit terrifying."

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"Yeah, that's actually one of the more minor reasons you don't want a hostile mage getting their hands on you. That said, it's genuinely pretty hard for a mage to get even an untranslated look at someone's mind without getting their permission or overpowering them; the field has to touch the mage, and while they can shape it pretty arbitrarily it can only be so big - a couple cubic yards if my estimates are right, the narrowest possible beam formation can extend about a city block - and it's hard to aim if you can't see what you're doing, and the casting sense is distracting enough that you can't tap into that and do anything else at all, so in a culture where mages are a known thing you're really not going to get away with doing that in public unless people really trust you."

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"Can you feel someone using mage sense on you or something?"

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"No, but if someone suddenly closes their eyes and goes still for several seconds, that's a pretty good clue that something might be up. And there's cultural safeguards, too - I've only really fleshed out the kobolds yet, but for them, you don't get to be a mage in the first place unless your tribe trusts you to behave yourself with it, and if you don't, they'll retaliate possibly up to the point of kicking you out of the tribe, which is basically a death sentence."

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"How do you become a mage? Is that something anyone can learn? And can't someone, say, try to do it from a distance, without your seeing them? And is there any way to know what the mage's 'looking at'?"

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