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Author Topic: Elemental Property Discussion  (Read 28532 times)
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Rayne (Alýr)
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« on: 30 December 2011, 00:42:09 »

Magic has become one of the most tattered, inconsistent, and confusing matters in Santharia. Much reference RP-side, but rarely comprehensible, magic is one of the areas most in need of help at this point. It's a huge project; one that drove me out of this forum long ago. But to help alleviate frustrations, maybe it's time to pick up discussions.

I have some issues and, on my own part, a lot of confusion about a lot of things related to magic, in terms of spheres, spell levels (difficulty levels), properties, degrees, etc., but I feel like the most pressing issue right now is just determining elemental properties. The goal here is to outline the properties, define them, and discuss their relationships to each other.



COLOR DEFINITIONS

Wind = Purple = #9999CC
Earth = Green = #66CC00
Water = Blue = #99CCCC
Fire = Red = #FF6666




PROPERTY RELATIONSHIPS

PropertyPrimary OppositeSecondary OppositesComplement
Movement (P)Stillness (P) -- Fluidity (P), Chaos (P)
Lightness (P)Heaviness (P) -- --
Ethereality/Invisibility (P)Solidity/Opaqueness/Hardnes (P) -- Refraction?/Reflection?
Clarity (S)Obscurity (S) -- --
Intangible (P)Tangible (P) -- --
Impermanence (P)Permanence (P) -- --
Cold (P)Heat (P)Ethereality (P)??Solidity (P)
Tranquility (S)Agitation (S) -- --
Fluidity (P)Chaos (P)?? -- --
Dispassion (S)Passion (S) -- --
Coalescence/Absorption (P)Expansion (P) -- --
Transformation (P)Consumption (P) -- --
Darkness (P)??Light (P) -- --
Stillness (P)Movement (P)Fluidity (P), Chaos (P) --
Heaviness (P)Lightness (P) -- --
Solidity/Opaqueness/Hardness (P)Ethereality/Invisibility (P)Refraction?/Reflection? --
Obscurity (S)Clarity (S) -- --
Tangible (P)Intangible (P) -- --
Permanence (P)Impermanence (P) -- --
Reliability (S)?? (S) -- --
Heat (P)Cold (P)Solidity (P)Ethereality (P)??
Agitation (S)Tranquility (S) -- --
Chaos (P)??Fluidity (P) -- --
Passion (S)Dispassion (S) -- --
Expansion (P)Coalescence/Absorption (P) -- --
Consumption (P)Transformation (P) -- --
Light (P)Darkness (P)?? -- --




PROPERTY DEFINITIONS

  WIND        WATER        EARTH        FIRE    
 Movement      Tranquility        ---        Dispersion    


Movement (Physical)
Movement represents the state of being in motion.  While other Elemental properties might encourage or discourage motion, the motion itself is the result of expressing the property of Movement.  Thus, anything that is moving is expressing the property of Movement; the more strongly the property is expressed, the faster it moves.  


Tranquility (Spiritual)
Tranquility represents composure and calm, a property expressing water's existential desire to become still. Anything expressing the property of Tranquility retains a sense of calm and composure - the calmer something is, the more it expresses the property.


Dispersion (Physical)
Dispersion is the property representing the tendency towards spreading out and occupying more space, or even breaking up into smaller groups.  One example of how this property manifests is the phenomenon of air expanding when heated.  When applied to something less fluid, and thus less able to expand, it might result in cracking, or in extreme cases, explosions. 
« Last Edit: 10 January 2012, 13:44:09 by Rayne (Alýr) » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: 30 December 2011, 03:10:50 »

number1 Rayne, thank you for organizing this project. My two sans, if I may:

1) LIST OF ELEMENTAL PROPERTIES

I found a few links I thought might help the research. Here (towards the bottom of the post) is a list that contains a few other properties. The entries on the elements might also be a source of inspiration: wind; water; fire; earth.

2) I think organizing our lists around the duality of the elements is a fantastic idea! I also  think that your suggestion to align tranquility with water and chaos with fire makes a lot of sense. Chaos being an attribute of water seemed a bit odd to me too.

3) Based on what I read (in particular: Coren's commentary/spells and the element entries I listed above), transformation/change also seems to be one of the cardinal qualities associated with water. What would its fire counterpart be though? Inertia or resistance to change is hard to square with fire, and seems to be the epitome of earth.

Perhaps in keeping with Carpadosian myth, we could appoint wind/earth as the 'stable' elements and have water/fire stand for 'change'. Then fire and water could represent two different aspects of change (ditto for wind/earth):

Water: transformation
Fire: destruction - Perhaps there is a better word? 'Destruction' is in the purest sense is more ecua than fire, no?

Maybe we can qualify our terminology a bit and say: Change is governed by fire and water; fire represents the destructive nature of change whereas water stands for change through transformation. To simplify: fire = destructive changes; water =  transformational (transformative?) changes


Earth: inertia - the stagnant (!?) aspect of stability
Wind: the concept of 'stillness in motion'?



4) Light and heat seem characteristic of Fire. So perhaps we can ascribe 'darkness' to water? Not entirely sure about this. It could be in line with the colour scheme of the Water Tower and could be aligned with the unfathomable depths of the ocean. (The word 'abyss' comes to mind.)

5) Also, how about 'refraction' for water? What would its counter-part be?

6) Lastly, may I propose a discussion question?: What is the correlation between properties and the physical/spiritual dichotomy? I guess there are three routes we could go down:

i. A given property is either physical OR spiritual, but cannot be both.

ii. Properties can be a) solely physical, b) solely spiritual or c) both, depending on the property. Cold is physical, passion is spiritual, clarity can be either spiritual or physical depending on the context.

iii. All properties have physical and spiritual aspects. "Wrrrr. It's cold. I'm chilled to the bone" ; "He has a cold personality."

The more I think, the more I lean towards the second or third option. It would leave marvelous scope for metaphor! Not only would it leave us a lot of room for invention, but perhaps re-introduce a sense of fantasy into Ximaxian magic?

Also, bear in mind that medieval people viewed the world a lot more metaphorically. The theory of the 'humours' in medicine would be one example. Bestiaries (the ancestor of zoological research) could be another: I think I heard somewhere that they contained only the most cursory discussion of physical characteristics and instead focused on what lessons could be drawn from that particular animal in terms of morality or metaphysics. Everything in the natural world was seen as a metaphor of human existence or of the spiritual path.

Now, are there any properties which CANNOT be both? I guess any physical quality could be ascribed a spiritual aspect, if we bend it enough. After all, isn't that what human capacity for metaphor is there for? Purely spiritual qualities like passion might be the thorn in the side though. I personally am not averse to Santharians believing in passionate rocks or calm seas, but I realize this might be a bit too much for some people. If pushed, I guess one could argue that 'passion' is just a word we use to describe 'spiritual heat'. So heat would then be both, with 'hot' being a synonym for its physical aspect and 'passion' for the spiritual.


No 2 might be the easy way out though. It is suitably vague to appease everyone. Then properties can be assigned to either side of the divide on a case by case basis.



EDIT: Two sans appear to go rather far in Santharia. I guess Santharians haven't discovered inflation yet ;P
« Last Edit: 30 December 2011, 03:22:14 by Aos » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: 30 December 2011, 04:17:30 »

Well, I guess I'm expected here, though I'm still not sure how involved I will be.  Haven't been taking part in magic discussions much for fear of annoying people.  But maybe that won't happen this time. 

Regarding chaos and tranquility, I think that depends on how you define them.  If I remember correctly, chaos was assigned to both Water and Fire to represent, as Aos said, the fact that they were 'changing' elements.  But it seems calling it chaos might have caused some confusion. 

Having Fire and Water represent different forms of change seems about right, or more specifically, deriving their properties from the types of change they represent.  So Fire supposedly originates from Earth and tries to become Wind, if I remember correctly, so it is going from tangible to intangible, from still to moving.  And Water would be the opposite of that. 

I am somewhat uncertain about having properties that are both physical and spiritual.  The idea of passion being spiritual heat is really clever though, and forms a nice contrast with physical coldness and 'cold personality'.  But it seems a little odd that some properties could be both physical and spiritual, while others can only be one of those.  It would be nice if all properties could be both.  If there's something that just doesn't fit...maybe Ximaxian mages don't use the same conceptual metaphors we do?  Real life languages don't all use the same conceptual metaphors after all, so it could be that Centoraurian (or whatever language the Ximaxians usually speak) doesn't use the same ones as English. 

Also, I know we're not discussing it yet, but would it be possible to try make formulas and reagents more essential to the system?  Not to the extent that it's impossible to do magic without them, I think, but ideally there would be some theoretical basis for the Dwarven belief that reagents are a necessary part of spellcasting. 
« Last Edit: 30 December 2011, 04:32:19 by Mina » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: 30 December 2011, 10:02:18 »

STABLE AND UNSTABLE ELEMENTS

I think it's important to make sure we're not mixing up ATTRIBUTES of elements with the BEHAVIOR/DEFINITION of an element. We say that water and fire have CHAOTIC properties because they're UNSTABLE elements (earth trying to be wind, wind trying to be earth). However, we don't say that STABILITY is an attribute of wind, even though it is a STABLE element.

That said, I think it's important to work in the transformative attribute that fire and water seem to express. I agree with you, Aos, that one seems calmer, the other more violent. I've added these to the list as "evolving" and "devolving." It was the best I could come up with.  undecided


SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES

The only reason I had some as both physical and spiritual was because I ran out of words. I have tried to emend the situation. I don't want to worry too much about spiritual/physical differentiation too much yet. This is a brainstorm--just putting ideas on paper. Some things may overlap, others might be closely related. It doesn't matter right now. I think we just need to get everything on paper and then analyze what we have.


QUESTIONS

5) I'm not sure what the opposite of Refraction would be. What sort of spells might use refraction, and how? Maybe if we can figure out how it would play out in an actual spell, we can figure out what the opposite attribute would be

6) I particularly iii, but let's wait to break this all down completely. I think, for now, getting everything up is the most important! :D I love your ideas, though! I think we should be better able to categorize once we get our lists complete.


NOTE

Thank you, Aos and Mina, for participating in this discussion. Magic is such a mess, and I feel that any one person thinking about it too long can get kind of lost. My goal here is to try to moderate so that we don't get too tangled in the philosophical/cosmological implications. I encourage you to bring in ideas and help fill in the big picture. Your knowledge and insight will be so helpful!
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« Reply #4 on: 30 December 2011, 11:36:37 »

The opposite of refraction would be absorption, wouldn't it?
White is the result of refracting the spectrum of light, black is the result of absorbing it, if I don't miss my mark terribly.

Light as a property makes sense, since phosphorescence and bio-luminescence provide light without heat, just as an animal can produce heat without light. Whether or not this is a property of wind or not, I'd suggesting putting the corresponding property of "Not light" with earth. Actually.... expressing that as "Illumination" as a P/S component of wind could work. Whatever the corresponding thing is would be would fit in earth, obviously.
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« Reply #5 on: 30 December 2011, 13:37:34 »

The opposite of absorption should be radiation or reflection, I think?  Refraction is basically the bending of light, so it's a type of bending.  Its opposite would be something like straightening? 
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« Reply #6 on: 30 December 2011, 14:07:31 »

Quote
Refraction: The turning or bending of any wave, such as a light or sound wave, when it passes from one medium into another of different optical density.
Essentially, that means refraction really has no 'opposite'. Bend said wave in any direction (whether to warp or straighten it) is 'refraction'. Just my two sans.
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« Reply #7 on: 30 December 2011, 14:08:07 »

You bring up an interesting point, Valan, and I like that you use "Not light." I think you're right that earth is the quality of "Not light." Perhaps all the other elements will have this property of "Not light." If I have a flame and I increase influence to a certain degree, even though I'm more directly stealing influence from earth, I'm also technically stealing a bit from fire, too, so the flame may dim (particularly if I'm turning "on" invisibility).

Perhaps there are some properties like this, for which the opposing element does not have the monopoly on the reciprocal property. Another example might be earth's immovability. Technically all the other elements--wind, water, and fire--all have the property of moving or activity.

Regarding refraction/absorption/radiation--I'm still not sure how this would manifest into a spell... Can someone give an example of when and how you would utilize this property?
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« Reply #8 on: 30 December 2011, 15:10:47 »

Radiation of heat and light?  Which sounds like it could be linked with expansion or dispersion in general.  Absorption would be the cause of coldness and darkness, and linked to coalescense?  Don't know about refraction.  Mostly I'm just trying to link properties together; ideally, each element would represent a single principle, from which all that element's properties are derived, but I'm not sure if that is possible.  I might be thinking too much about behaviour instead of attributes.   buck

Other thoughts: lightness, etheraelity, clarity, and invisibility as forms of intangibility; heaviness, solidity, stubborness, and opaqueness as forms of tangibility.  

Edit: Looking over what I just wrote, maybe it doesn't have to be so clearly defined.  Maybe it could be something the Academy mages themselves disagree about, so that some are looking for a single underlying property for each element, while others don't think they exist but debate about which exactly are properties in their own right and which are manifestations of other properties?  The Ximaxian system has always needed more fuzzy areas for the mages to disagree about, and making this one of those areas doesn't look like it would hurt the system too badly.  It's all theoretical and shouldn't really make much of a difference in practice. 
« Last Edit: 30 December 2011, 15:39:43 by Mina » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: 30 December 2011, 20:39:30 »

Why not: up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top?  (winks lightheartedly)


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« Reply #10 on: 31 December 2011, 05:27:40 »

Quote from: Rayne
I think it's important to make sure we're not mixing up ATTRIBUTES of elements with the BEHAVIOR/DEFINITION of an element. We say that water and fire have CHAOTIC properties because they're UNSTABLE elements (earth trying to be wind, wind trying to be earth). However, we don't say that STABILITY is an attribute of wind, even though it is a STABLE element.

That said, I think it's important to work in the transformative attribute that fire and water seem to express.

1) Rayne, that's brilliant! The distinction between ATTRIBUTES and BEHAVIOUR is tremendously helpful!

2) I really like the new terms! However, "evolving" & "devolving" seem to be more xeua/ecua than water/fire, no? It would be great if we could retain the word 'transformation' somehow; it seems to be a key theme in existing water entries. How about:

Water: transformation --- Fire: consumption
Both fire and water bring about change. Fire changes by consuming everything it touches; and the touch of water is necessary for transformation, from clay to mud, seed to sprout or soluable into solution. Water and transformation seem to share an intuitive connection: water is in a constant state of transformation, from ice to water to vapour, and then condenses again to rayne down upon the Disk.

Perhaps this is an opportunity to build on the medieval sensibilities of Santharians and philosophize: Growth from seed to sprout requires both water and fire (sun): the old patterns (the "seedness") must be consumed (Fire), so that energy that was once seed can transform into the form of the sprout.

3) I'm not sure about 'refraction' either! :P It was somewhat spur of the moment: I just went to grab a glass of water and the light falling on it brought refraction to mind. It seemed like a cool attribute; of the four elements only water refracts the light that passes through it. But it does not sit very comfortably with the idea of duality - which brings to mind the question: Are there (read: do we want to have) properties that cannot be explained through elemental duality?

As regards how it can be used in a spell, perhaps refraction is how water mages create illusions? Wind conjures illusions by tricking the mind; fire by playing with light and shadow; and water by refracting the light that is already there. Admittedly, that leaves earth - but we all know that earth is a bit socially gouche and was never the cool kid in the playground to start with anyway.


NB: It just occurred to me that in quite a few cultures there seems to be a connection between water, mirrors and silver. Perhaps we can build on this later in discussing refraction and reflective surfaces.

Quote from: Rayne
I particularly iii, but let's wait to break this all down completely. I think, for now, getting everything up is the most important!  I love your ideas, though! I think we should be better able to categorize once we get our lists complete.

4) The keyboard gremlins appear to have grabbed a word and smuggled it overseas! Gentlemen, secure thy brides and children!  jawdrop

5) Mina's idea of explaining absorption as the cause of coldness and darkness is pure genius!

6) "Real life languages don't all use the same conceptual metaphors after all." --> This is a great point!

7) Clarity & stubbornness don't really seem to be opposites?

(Please ignore the remainder of this post for now. I wanted to summarize what we've discussed so far to lift some of the administrative burden from Rayne's shoulders, but ran out of time. I'll come back and tidy it soon.)

I tried my hand at incorporating what we discussed so far to lift some of the administrative burden from Rayne's shoulders. Do you think the following is an accurate summary?

EDIT: I just realised going through the links posted in one of the forum stickies that Coren had already raised some of these questions earlier, often with simpler words and greater precision than my own formulations. So I've "lifted" some of his phrasing.





ELEMENTAL PROPERTIES

In the Ximaxian system each element is associated with certain qualities, known as Elemental Properties (or Properties, properly capitalised, for short). Here are some of these Properties. The list reflects the dual nature of opposing elements (wind/earth; water/fire).

An area of debate among Ximaxan scholars is whether there is a cardinal property for each element which links all of the properties of that element together. Some believe that each element in truth represents a single principle, from which all that element's properties are derived. For instance, it could be argued that absorption (water) is the cause of coldness and darkness, and that absorption itself is linked to coalescence. Another example would be lightness, etheraelity, clarity, and invisibility as forms of intangibility (wind); heaviness, solidity, stubborness, and opaqueness as forms of tangibility (earth). Others see the search for a single underlying property for each element as unrealistic, a wild-goose chase, and argue that the real question is which exactly are properties in their own right and which are manifestations of other properties.


WIND : EARTH (additions)
* transparency : opaqueness (is opaque the right word here?)  (EDIT: Oh! I just saw that you already included this as 'invisibility-opaqueness'.)
*


 



WATER - FIRE:
*




CONTROVERSIAL/OLDER IDEAS - Do we want to keep/modify these?:

* Animation (fire) ---- ct 'duality'
* Hardness (earth)
* Permanence (earth)
* Numbness (earth)
* Order/Stability (earth)
* Strength (earth)
* Reliability (earth)
* Liquidity (water) -- seems obvious, but what would the counter-part be? This once again brings us to DQ 4.
* Intuition (water) (EDIT: Lightbulb! Intuition (water) - inspiration (fire)! Perhaps 'duality' encompasses not only 'opposites' but 'two sides of the same coin'. So corresponding elements could represent different aspects/natures of an attribute as well - such as the transformation/consumption as two aspects of change.)


* Randomness (water)
* Courage (fire)

* Indecisiveness (water)



NEXT STEPS/ DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR THE FUTURE
1) Establish how attributes relate to spheres

2) Establish how spheres relate to magic level

3) How do we know whether a given property can be used for physical or spiritual manipulation? We have three options here:

(i) An elemental property is either physical or spiritual, but never both.
(ii) Some elemental properties are solely physical, some solely spiritual and some both, depending on the property. Cold is physical, passion is spiritual, clarity can be either spiritual or physical depending on the context.
(iii) All properties have physical and spiritual aspects. "Wrrrr. It's cold. I'm chilled to the bone" ; "He has a cold personality."

4) Are there (read: do we want to have) properties that cannot be explained by reference to the duality of opposing elements? For instance, are there properties for which the opposing element does not have the monopoly on the reciprocal property?


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« Reply #11 on: 31 December 2011, 06:59:56 »

I love that you number things, Aos! It definitely helps me follow the various topics in discussion


2) “Evolving” and “Devolving” aren’t quite xeua/ecua, at least in the way I conceive of them. Unfortunately, there are a number of different interpretations, both here and on the site. My view is that xeua and ecua represent two different ways of making an effect. However, xeua and ecua, in and of themselves, have no effects. They merely link to the part of the car’all that “holds” or “carries” all the effects--the ounia.

An oun is like a pane of stained glass--only when the light shines through it do you see its true colors. An active, or speaking (soor), link illuminates an oun’s properties, while an inactive, or listening (ahm), link shadows those properties. And with the panes of stained glass you find in churches, which are so large and variegated, putting your light behind different parts of it will illuminate different colors--just like for the ounia, linking to different properties will create different effects.

Xeua and ecua, then, are not evolving or devolving, necessarily, but merely illuminating and shadowing the properties of ounia.

I do like transformation and consumption. I can put these terms up to replace the others.


5) Are we saying that absorption is a property of water and radiation is one of fire? So while fire ‘radiates’ heat to create hotness, water ‘absorbs’ heat to create coldness? I think that this could work for me.


7) Stubbornness sounded better than narrowmindedness. Perhaps there’s a better term?  undecided I was trying to think of clarity and then what spiritual effects might be opposite or detrimental to mental clarity.


I think the summary looks fantastic! I hope we can keep brainstorming properties, though I like how a lot of this is falling into place.

As for the qualities to keep or chuck--I would chuck “numbness” and “randomness”. The others I would like to keep for now.
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« Reply #12 on: 31 December 2011, 13:50:00 »

Quote
Water: transformation --- Fire: consumption
Both fire and water bring about change. Fire changes by consuming everything it touches; and the touch of water is necessary for transformation, from clay to mud, seed to sprout or soluable into solution. Water and transformation seem to share an intuitive connection: water is in a constant state of transformation, from ice to water to vapour, and then condenses again to rayne down upon the Disk.
Hmm, I'm looking at it in a slightly different way.  Fire is the tangible (Earth-like) becoming ethereal (Wind-like).  So, in a way, it is diminishing and destroying things.  On the other hand, Water represents the opposite change, so it's essentially about growth. 

I do agree that Water has to do with some form of transformation, but I think that's really more about how water readily changes its shape to fit the container.  Change in state might not have anything to do with it though.  If I remember correctly, ice was defined long ago as Water with strong Earth influence.  Going by the same logic, water vapour would be Water under strong Wind influence.  If that's so, change in state is more about interaction with other elements, rather than an inherent property. 

Quote
3) I'm not sure about 'refraction' either!  It was somewhat spur of the moment: I just went to grab a glass of water and the light falling on it brought refraction to mind. It seemed like a cool attribute; of the four elements only water refracts the light that passes through it. But it does not sit very comfortably with the idea of duality
I'm inclined to think of refraction as Water's fluidity causing light to bend.  On the other hand, refraction can be observed happening near very hot things too, such as a flame.  So it might not be a Water thing, or at least not exclusively. 

As for Earth and illusions, well, it can presumably slow thought and impair cognitive ability (opposite of clarity, perhaps obliviousness?), which could probably used to trick a target in some way that could be called illusions.  Maybe. 

Anyway, I was thinking, we don't need a list of all possible properties, do we?  I don't know if we could ever be really sure that the list is complete.  Perhaps we should just aim to have enough to give people a good feel for what is and isn't possible for each element? 

Also, rather than just listing the names of the properties, perhaps there could be a short explanation of what each one actually means?  It should be quite useful, both for those of us taking part in the discussion and those hoping to learn about the magic system. 
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« Reply #13 on: 31 December 2011, 14:54:06 »

Perhaps instead of liquidity, we have "fluidity"?

Like so
Fluidity S/P
This property represents the inherent ability of water aligned objects to flow or move without being hindered by obstacles, and the flexibility inherent in the element. Water changes shape to fill the available space.
Fluidity also represents flexibility of thought, the ability to intuit, or to think "around" problems and ideas. A certain frame of mind that adapts or changes to suit the situation. Water always finds a way, be it the slow trickling of a creek as it winds its way to the sea, or the roar of a river flooding its banks.

Opposed Element/Property Earth/Stubbornness (S)/ Stillness (P)
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« Reply #14 on: 01 January 2012, 03:32:12 »

Perhaps we need not replace Liquidity with Fluidity, but rather make "Liquidity" the physical and "Fluidity" the spiritual?



My reasoning behind breaking down all the attributes/properties of each element is to allow us to decide how they relate to the spheres. HOW the sphere work is fairly well understood (though there's room for discussion...), but what these spheres mean in terms of the properties is still a bit hazy.

On the site, we assign certain attributes/properties to each sphere. I'm not sure if this should be the case. The oun create the effect, but it seems to me that the spheres should be the tools the mages use to bring about those effects.

For example, I want to make something cold:

1) I can use sphere 1 on a glass of water, because there's a high influence/amount of water/water ounia already extant in the car'all.

2) I can use sphere 2 on someone's hand, because while there may not be enough water ounia to turn all of them cold, there is enough for me to concentrate the influence/effect in one part of the body.

3) I can use sphere 3 for an ember, which doesn't have a lot of water ounia and would need to 'import' some in order to bring out the desired effect.
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"There is much misjudgment in the world. Now, I knew you for a unicorn when I first saw you, and I know that I am your friend. Yet you take me for a clown, or a clod, or a betrayer, and so I must be if you see me so. The magic on you is only magic and will vanish as soon as you are free, but the enchantment of error that you put on me I must wear forever in your eyes. We are not always what we seem..." -Schmendrick the Magician, The Last Unicorn
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