May 20, 2019 3:01 PM
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"I have a family. I'm not going to abandon them without some reason to think I might be able to go back. But it sounds like getting epic is just a matter of practice in your world—please tell me right now if there is an even theoretical limit to achievable momentum—"

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"Not that I know of."

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"—So it's at least plausible that if I got to your world and hit my stride I might one day be able to tell the world itself to fuck off. And if I go back home with nothing, having experienced this tantalizing opportunity, I do think my odds will have shifted in favour of death. It's hard to predict by how much. The more time I spend pondering the question at all, the likelier it is that I won't be able to go back to my nice quiet life as a skirmish player and will instead do something prematurely hubristic and get myself killed."

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"A what player?"

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"Skirmish. It's a game. Opposing teams of people try to fake kill each other with fake weapons that do exclusively fake damage. You'd think this would be a stupid hobby for somebody with my fairy curse, but I'm really good at it and the way my blessing works means that accumulating more pain is a worthwhile tradeoff."

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"I don't want to turn it up just for a demonstration, but I always have the mental capacity to handle the amount of pain I'm in and I can choose approximately where to set this balance at any given moment. So I'm not currently feeling the full effects of all my skirmish battles and am also not currently thinking four or five times as fast as a normal human. If I keep playing skirmish, eventually it'll be six, seven..."

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"Oh wow, that'd serve you in good if extremely uncomfortable stead sorcery-wise, unless it means you need to sleep more often."

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"Not a bit. My sleep cycle is totally unrelated to my pain balance, except that when I'm running high it's obviously hard to sleep for multiple reasons and when I'm tired out it's harder to run high."

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"So you could build up a few days' worth of normal person momentum all in one day and then only lose one night of sleep to it. You could probably catch up to me, especially if you went biphasic."

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"Biphasic...?"

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"Sleeping in two shorter chunks instead of eight hours all at once. Some people manage shorter naps; I couldn't get that to work for me but I can do two."

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"I could try that."

He pauses.

"...I just noticed myself having the thought 'of course I could catch up to you'. That's it, I'm done, I can't go home until I'm a big enough deal to overthrow the gods themselves. Well, at least your world seems to give me a decent shot of getting there."
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"I mean, your depressive phases will be a major setback and I don't know how it'll balance against the speedup thing," snorts Kithabel. "But I'll take you home with me, sure. After I've had a good long lie-in. I'm pretty well suited to never taking a break longer than twenty minutes but that doesn't mean I'm not taking advantage as long as my momentum can't drop."

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"Can you find time in your busy lie-in schedule to tell me everything that might be even potentially relevant about your world? And would it be workable for me to hang around while I'm getting up to speed and give you suggestions about how to fill your time without annoying your neighbours?"

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"Oh, yeah, I have lots of room in my castle and I don't mind helping you out. Although the translation effect in here won't follow us so I'll have to get a friend to make me a translation object for you; I'm not ramped up enough to do that yet. Where do you want to start on Kithabel's World Facts?"

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"How about an introduction to the usual trajectory of a nascent sorcerer?"

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"You drop out of all your other commitments, announce it to everybody you know and make them tell all their friends, develop a taste for coffee, and then tromp around doing people's gardening and pest control and housepainting and catering and minor healing not worth walking to the healer's for, until you can do something interesting."

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"Was that what you did? What are the time scales involved like?"

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"Oh, I left school when I was little and just read books while I was going around to do things in various places. I always wanted to be a sorceress. I'm seventeen now and very young for a flier."

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"Hmm. I'm trying to form a general sense of what things become doable before or after what other things..."

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"The big milestones are comprehensive healing of arbitrary nonfatal conditions, flight, teleportation, resurrection of the dead, and being able to go without sleep, in that order."

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"Hmm. How about the little stuff that comes before comprehensive healing?"

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"Average person - who has more than zero momentum, I mean, zero is usually very small children and it's hard to systematically know what-all they can do - can nudge small objects without touching them, rescue a burned batch of cookies, dust a room one surface at a time, make enough light to see by at night for a short distance, get a butterfly to land on them, that sort of thing."

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"That seems like plenty to be going on with... okay, what about specialists, what should I know about specialists?"

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