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Author Topic: Warped Mind - Magic from Ath?  (Read 3851 times)
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Athviaro Shyu-eck-Silfayr
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« on: 23 January 2012, 00:07:26 »

Yup, I'm as shocked and horrified as you are. I've said in the past that I like to think that I know about magic, but I'm actually fairly clueless and just like to sound intelligent, so this came as just as much of a shock to me as to those who know me.

Skarlic spell - for Shabakuk, after the witches. Thank you for the template - it was helpful in directing my thoughts to what needed elaboration.

PS: Sorry for betraying the Remusian hatred of magic, Alt. I now feel moderately guilty...


Categorization: This depends on whether you want to categorise it as a branch of witchcraft or not.

Name: Warped Mind

Other names: Sprung Mind, Leaking Spirit

Coven: Skarlic magic

Spell Level: I don't think this is quite applicable.

Overview

This incantation was one of the most widely-used battle spells of the Glandorian skarls. Although their magic bears many similarities to witchcraft, as practised by such legendary figures as Dula the Witch, the necessities of Glandorian history led to the development of skarlic magic in a more martial direction. This spell, referred to in the Glandorian myth "Ulfet Glandor'en", or "The Wolf of Glandor", causes irrational behaviour and even utter insanity in a target or targets, and was widely used in the Kanapan-Glandor Wars. The way the skarls speak of their magic bears many similarities to the way that witches talk of "stepping closer" to the warp and weft of life's tapestry, and indeed the Glandorian personification of Fate as a shipwright is similar to the witches' idea of Harash. It is not known whether one derived from the other, whether they are descended from an ancient belief, or whether they are unrelated but similar concepts.

Spell Effect

Warped Mind causes the subject to begin behaving in an increasingly erratic manner. The skarls described this as taking the smooth lines and logical structure of the ship that Fate builds and bending, breaking and misshaping its fabric.  This transformation of a thing of logic and beauty - a well-made ship - into a chaotic and unwieldy collection of broken timbers is reflected as a loss of coherence and rationality in the mind of the affected party or parties - skarlic magic, being warlike, was often used to affect larger numbers than most witchcraft. The target also becomes mentally weaker, often becoming fearful and filled with irrational doubts; they are said to lose their ability to act in a collected manner, or even coordinate their actions with any precision.

Crafting Procedure

The skarls tended to use chanting as a means of reaching the required trancelike state, and some of their most martial chants were used for this incantation; although all skarls were different, just as all witches are unique, the words were usually chosen to implant doubts and fears into the weakened minds of any affected, as well as helping the skarls to focus on affecting the ship of Fate in the desired way. This fragment of a chant used for the spell survives; unlike the epic poems recited in the halls of kings, it is fast, short-lined, and rhymes, features that we have tried to preserve in translation:

Your swords are breaking;
Your arms are aching;
Your Gods have fled, forsaking you;
We are many, you are few.
Our hearts are strong,
Our arms are long;
Value each breath;
It heralds your death.

As can be seen, the lyrics are powerful, and we find in the Skarlbog that many skarls believed the words used were as important as the changing of the ship - it is recorded there that Wodtskun, one of the greatest skarls who ever lived, said: "Just as the tale of Ulfet Glandor'en or that of Glandor himself can stir a whole room of warriors with the power of its words and the voice of the skarl, so too can our chants have an effect on our subjects by their own weight, in addition to that of the spell." Often, it must be said, skarls would create their chants on the spot, and weave in references to the battle as it was running - they thought that creation of the rhyme was more effective than mere recitation, and perhaps if they believed it, it was.

Materials

The skarl would not use any physical materials for this spell, as their magic was based around the chant and the words rather than actual materials. Some, however, carried a small bag made from the intestines or bladder of an animal - or even a slain enemy - with a carved peg fitted in the opening so that it produced an eerie, screeching whistle. This instrument was clasped in one or both hands, and was often strapped to a board for easier use. The strange noise was described as “the winds of Death” and with its mournful ululations proved terrifying to foes.

Crafting Time

This spell's effects were felt right away; the longer the skarl spent on it, the more randomness, irrationality, fear and doubt he could introduce into the mind of the target. If focused on a single target, a competent skarl could probably induce near insanity in a few blinks, but they tended to focus more on affecting the minds of entire groups of enemies, disorientating them enough to give the Glandorian warriors a better chance to finish them off. To affect a large group of foes, a skarl would take around ten or twenty blinks to disorientate them significantly but would require more time than was practical in battle to induce anything resembling insanity in over a dozen men

Duration

The power of the spell continued to increase as long as the skarl focussed on it; after his concentration was broken, or when he began to form another spell, the effects would gradually decrease due to what the skarls described as Fate's work - the tendency of the "ship of Fate" towards order. This held true for almost all cases - and certainly the overwhelming majority of battlefield uses - but if the spell were used to bring about utter insanity, the effects would be, barring further interference, irrevocable. There are tales of certain captive Kanapan leaders being subjected to this treatment, as an effective way of damaging enemy morale and leadership.

Range and power

The further the person or people to be affected were from the skarl, the harder it was to find that part of the "ship of Fate" pertaining to them and the harder it was to effect the necessary changes on it. For a similar reason, the spell was most used against those within clear sight of the skarl; the more accurately the skarl could pinpoint the foe, the more efficiently he could induce irrationality and fear. To bring about the genuine insanity so widely feared by Kanapan tribal leaders, the skarls tended to require that the hapless victim be bound so that the skarl might make eye contact at the range of a lash - a Glandorian measurement slightly more than a fore.


Counterspells, defences, immunities

The Kanapan men - the main targets of this spell - believed that not hearing the chant was an effective way of reducing its effect; consequently, they chanted loud war cries as they went into battle. They also thought that holding a single idea in your mind - say, your wife or another thing with which you were intimately familiar - could reduce the ability of the skarls to bring chaos to your mind. The effectiveness of these tactics is unknown. Some individuals are said to have been immune to the effects; indeed, one Kanapan myth deals almost exclusively with one man's resistance to the curse - as they called it.

Myth and Lore

As has been mentioned, Kanapan mythology contained a character whose tale was predominantly the story of his capture by the Glandorians. He is said to have  withstood for a fortnight the efforts of the skarls to break his mind. Only after a further month of languishing in captivity was he released by order of the Glandorian Konig, out of respect to a man whose mind was of such a calibre, and returned to his clan healthy not only in body but also in mind.

Of Glandorian myths, few deal directly with this spell. It is mentioned in many skarlic songs of war, but no tale yet found tells of its invention. The earliest tales which mention it in the Skarlbog do not make any reference to it as a newly created spell; however, it must be remembered that the Skarlbog is not complete and has been pieced together from what fragments have been found.
« Last Edit: 08 May 2012, 19:01:01 by Athviaro Shyu-eck-Silfayr » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: 24 January 2012, 00:18:59 »

Hi Ath,

First of all, I've got to say that I like this as a text. It's well-written, contains fascinating detail, and is already connected to a myth you've written, so there's a lot to admire. Also, you've clearly thought through different levels of power of the spell, and hint at some fascinating Skarlic ideas about magic (Ship of Fate). In particular, I think that your incantation is wonderful.

Second, though, I have a concern. Unless I have missed something during my recent two-month absence, I think what you're doing here is developing a spell for a type of magic that the compendium so far knows nothing about. I think that this is problematic, because a new magic system (even if it is purely historical, as I think it would be in the case of Glandorian skarlic magic?) needs to be introduced as an idea and opened to discussion among all members, before you start developing it. In particular, Arti and the oldest members, including especially the veteran magic experts, who defined what magic should be here on Caelereth, need to have the opportunity to have their say.

I think I am partly at fault here, since you asked me in another thread whether I'd mind you developing skarlic magic as something similar to witchcraft. I encouraged you to "develop away". I maybe should have been more circumspect, and included a warning of how such "developing away" might be done. I apologize for not thinking things through properly at the time.

I believe that you saw how I went about the development of witchcraft. I first asked in a post whether I would be allowed to develop it. To my delight, there was no objection, and much support for the idea. I then posted an outline of the general concept, containing considerable detail. This outline found approval from many members, including Arti and at least one magic moderator, and some detailed discussions with various members took place in that thread. The third step was to make a general entry on "Witchcraft". As you may remember, the first version of that submission was not actually appropriate for Santharia, since it made witch beliefs too similar to elven beliefs, as Arti pointed out. So I rewrote substantial parts of my first draft, and then went through several rounds of detailed comments, before the entry was fit to go on site.

Only then did I develop the first witch spell.

My point is that introduction of a new magic system is a delicate matter, and needs to be thoroughly discussed. So I think what is at issue in your submission here is not just whether this is a good entry in itself, but what members think about a new magic system in general, and about your ideas for skarlic magic in particular.

Maybe your idea was that skarlic magic and witchcraft are so similar that skarlic magic could be categorized as a 'variant' of witchcraft, or at least as something so similar that its development would not need to follow the 'Principles first, spells second' approach. Myself, I'm certainly open to skarlic magic and witchcraft being similar, and to the whole idea of skarl magicians itself, as I have indicated. But I do think the matter needs discussion among a greater number of members.

So I invite other members to comment.

In any case, Ath, personally I like both the idea and the execution, as I said. However, I did notice that you were basically 'using' this spell to explain (or hint at) some of the principles of skarlic magic. It might be useful, from the perspective of careful development, to make an entry (or, at this stage, a proposal) for 'Principles of Skarlic Magic' first. Then any skarlic spells would be easier to write afterwards, too?

In friendship,

Shabakuk



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Athviaro Shyu-eck-Silfayr
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« Reply #2 on: 24 January 2012, 00:44:49 »

I think we may have crossed lines here; my question was a particular reference to the use of the template you had provided. Personally, I had not intended that the skarlic system be different from witchcraft; I had no idea that what I was doing here might be construed as the creation of a new magic system. I was merely trying to use, as I said in your thread, the template you had provided for witchcraft to explore for myself and commit to paper the ideas and beliefs and applications of skarlic magic. To be honest, I have neither the time nor the inclination to develop an entire magic system at the moment; I'm reserving my large-scale efforts for my Masterwork. The development of skarlic magic was for myself, in order that I might better understand that. Ultimately, I'm going to blow with the wind on this. If I'm allowed to develop this spell as an outdated coven of witchcraft, fine; if not, and if it needs a new magic system, I'll let this float. It's served its purpose - the exploration of Glandorian magic that I mentioned - and so really it doesn't matter to me if it goes up now or later or not at all.

Anyway, thank you for taking the time and effort to write such a long post. The fact is, I couldn't write an entry of "Principle of Skarlic Magic"; I don't know enough about it. That was why I needed to use this template to look at how it worked. It's witchcraft. The metaphor is different, the practitioners are different; but ultimately I don't think it's mechanically different. I'm perfectly happy to be told that this would need an entire new magic system. Fine. The information here will come back in the Glandorians entry anyway. The Skarlbog, the idea of how the ship of Fate is viewed, and the skarlic customs are all new for this entry and vital for the other one. That's how it's served its purpose. Everything else - getting it approved, where it goes, how we classify it - is secondary.

Once again, thank you for the consideration inherent in such a long and detailed comment. If its novelty is too much, fine. I did what I wanted - "hint[ed] at some...Skarlic ideas about magic."

Athviaro
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« Reply #3 on: 24 January 2012, 04:36:06 »

Well, I'm glad you're relaxed about it all!  In general, if you're saying that you're not intending to develop Skarlic Magic further for the moment, I'm not sure it's worth making a category "Coven: Skarlic Magic". But let's see what the others say.


For myself, since you're saying that Skarlic Magic is intended to "be" witchcraft, I could make the following suggestion: We could cooperate on a spell of the coven "Rhyme Witches", of which your Skarlic spell could be a historically important variant. We could follow the template, as you've done, but include information on contemporary witches' uses. If you'd be happy with that, I'd then have some (smallish) comments to make the spell a bit more witchy in a place or two?  ;)


And I approve of your plans of focusing your energies on your masterwork. It's high time that you become a member. :)
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Athviaro Shyu-eck-Silfayr
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« Reply #4 on: 24 January 2012, 05:03:09 »

Certainly. I imagine that just looking at most witches could be enough to drive you mad...but sometimes it needs a little help. I'd be more than happy to cooperate on such a spell; any comments you'd like to make/ways you'd like to weave them together are welcome.

Ath
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« Reply #5 on: 03 February 2012, 06:53:10 »

Hi Ath,

Sorry to have been letting this languish. Well, first of all, I was waiting whether anyone else had comments; then I got distracted by the RPG board and by less important matters, such as my job ...

I'm glad you want to cooperate on threading a witchy weft through the skarlish warp you've so expertly laid out. To make a start, I have two comments:

1. There is one ingredient that I am missing to make this a witchcraft spell: the principle of exploiting dream threads. For Warped Mind to be a Rhyme Witch spell, there would need to be some equivalent to the lock of the victim's hair that the spell seamstress sews into her bewitchments.

What I thought was this: What if the witch or skarl needed to know something about the victim to make the spell work? A few examples:

  • For a skarl to strike fear into an opposing army, a few appropriate words in the opponents' language might suffice. Or if the rhyme witch wanted to intimidate a village crowd, she would need to know a few words of local dialect (especially if they be words that signify fear or nightmares or ...). Even better would be specific local knowledge, such as the date, painfully remembered locally, when the village's famous prize baneg fell ill and died; or the name of the village reeve's daughter, who left in a quarrel to prostitute herself in the city. The witch would construct her rhyme around those words or facts.
  • At the other extreme, to steal an individual's sanity for good, the skarl/witch would need to know an intimate secret of the victim.

How does that sound? We don't need to be too pernickety about the precise workings of the historical/mythical examples you've included, but in the more technical entry sections I would really like to emphasize this need of the witch to know something about her victims. This is to give witchcraft a distinctive flavour among the magic systems, and also to avoid overpowering the spell.

2. Spell Level: I think that this is a powerful and difficult spell, and suggest that even the weakest forms are at least Spell Crafting (Level 2), with the stronger forms reserved for Dream Bringers.

Whatcha think?

By the way, if you were happy with idea 1, there would also be an opportunity for a reference to the Evil Ear superstition. Warped Mind could be the grain of truth contained in the folk belief?
« Last Edit: 03 February 2012, 06:58:19 by Shabakuk Zeborius Anfang » Logged

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Athviaro Shyu-eck-Silfayr
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« Reply #6 on: 07 February 2012, 05:21:02 »

I'm perfectly happy with that, Shabby. I'd intended the references to the "ship" of Fate to fulfil the purpose of the dream threads, but I can certainyl emphasise the need/desirability of personal information or other related ... stuff* in the spell; perhaps an item of personal significance would be useful, especially in inducing true insanity?

Also happy with the spell level placement - although I can imagine a weaker witch using it to befuddle an individual? Perhaps the multiple-target version is only possible for higher-level witches?

Anyway, I'm sorry I was so slow getting to this.

Ath

*I'm tired; you can't expect me to be articu ... articla ... atriclut ... wordy.
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"I don't care what you did as a boy."
"Well, I did nothing as a girl, so there goes my childhood." - Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, The Gay Divorcee, 1934.
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« Reply #7 on: 09 February 2012, 20:08:44 »

Hi Ath,

I like your ideas!

(1) I agree that a weak version - mild befuddlement to an individual - could be a witchling-level spell.

(2) Item of personal significance: yes, that would suit. In general, I was hoping to make the different witch covens distinct in terms of their materials: needle witches would often need hair, warble witches would often need to know the victim's voice, or voices of 'significant others' (I never thought I would use the term 'significant other' in a Santharian board post ...), rhyme witches would need to know secrets, and so forth. But I haven't come up with a clear scheme yet, and in any case exceptions and special cases may exist. So maybe we could specify a range of 'materials' for this spell?


So how do you want to go about extending the entry? Do you want to write an integrated skarl/witch version yourself, with me commenting - or would you like me to suggest a paragraph or two? It's entirely up to you. I'm happy for you to take the lead, and am confident that you'll do a great job, as usual. But I'm also happy to contribute and help if you would like me to. :)
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« Reply #8 on: 17 February 2012, 20:44:09 »

Don't forget the ! or the pencil icon, Athviaro :)
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Athviaro Shyu-eck-Silfayr
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« Reply #9 on: 18 February 2012, 05:12:39 »

Shabakuk: I was just thinking along the lines of anything that allows the caster to get a closer "hold" on the mind; precious or meaningful items, voices or faces of loved ones, childhood songs twisted into a cruel imitation of his mother's soothing voice...are these the sort of thing you'd regard as legitimate?

Ath

And Dek: I shall remember. I always forget...
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"I don't care what you did as a boy."
"Well, I did nothing as a girl, so there goes my childhood." - Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, The Gay Divorcee, 1934.
The Life and Works of Athviaro Shyu-eck-Silfayr
Kalta'hnk - My ramblings on anything to do with the Glandorians - The Glandorian Men (Proposal)
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« Reply #10 on: 24 February 2012, 06:39:15 »

Shabakuk: I was just thinking along the lines of anything that allows the caster to get a closer "hold" on the mind; precious or meaningful items, voices or faces of loved ones, childhood songs twisted into a cruel imitation of his mother's soothing voice...are these the sort of thing you'd regard as legitimate?
Yes, good ideas!  :D You wanna write that in?
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