Sep 27, 2020 9:37 PM
Verity portalsnaked to Innangarðr
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Marin rolls her eyes, the first time since they've arrived that she has behaved so casually.

She translates for him as well.

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"My sister's translation leaves something to be desired in terms of its consistency and predictability, so I'd like us to exploit its more convenient traits. I wonder if you could expand on the definition of science to help close the gap? I would say that science involves a process of observing the world around us, testing a particular idea by comparing a control state to some interestingly different one, and fate-weaving to improve the results."

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"I'll think of possible experiments to suggest, in that case."  She doubts her ability to come up with anything clever, but she will try.  

Keeping in mind that it would probably help to be specific and maybe even slightly repetitive, to hopefully clear up any translation issues, "The first part of that sounded familiar.  The steps they teach in my world are: Make an observation, form a hypothesis - an explanation that can be tested - for why the observation happened, come up with a test that will behave differently depending on whether the hypothesis is true or not, and test it.  There are a number of things about the tests - having a control group is one, and making sure that only the one thing being tested is different between the two groups, and making sure the groups are as large as possible to avoid random chance making too big of an impact.  After testing, there's analyzing the results, forming a conclusion, and sharing the results.  Preferably also then using the knowledge to... plant crops in the soil that turned out to be better for them, or whatever the test was about.  

"I'm not sure what you mean by fate-weaving."

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"Fascinating. If you lack fate-weaving...fate-weaving is what allows us to ensure that the point of interest is the only thing that varies between the two groups. We can chart a course through possible futures to minimize other, confounding factors. There's never been much discussion on keeping the groups as large as possible, though. Why is that useful?"

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"It doesn't sound familiar.  

"Making the groups larger sounds like it's what we use in place of fate-weaving.  The more times something is tested, the less likely that something unrelated and random is causing any noticable results.  To use the example I said earlier, if someone is growing seeds in two soil samples and each kind of soil has one seed, then if one fails it might be the soil or it might be a dud seed no matter how carefully they picked them out to look similar.  But if each group has a hundred seeds, it's more likely that it's the soil and not the seeds if one side gets a noticable difference.  A thousand per soil type would be even better."  

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"I think you're right. Similar goals, but different methods. We might be able to learn from each other. I've always believed fate-weaving was a mundane ability, something that could be done without magic, but it might not be, if your world didn't discover it. You seem quite a bit more advanced, in other respects, according to Marin."

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"I'd be interested in trying it, to see if it works for me," she decides.  Later, though.  For now, she can ask him about his abilities.  

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Clerics have different powers depending on their Innangarð. His powers have to do with transmuting substances, manipulating the weather, moving stealthily, and predicting the future.

"Nothing very widely-applicable. I've used transmutation to some effect locally. Unfortunately, it's temporary."

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"Transmutation sounds like it could be useful, even if temporary.  Just to make sure the translation is coming through correctly, transmuting means something getting turned into another substance while keeping the same size and shape?"

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"That's right. Wood, stone, and metal tend to be the most useful transmutations here. One avenue for exploration might be to try transmuting from a substance we know to one unique to your world. Imagined substances have never worked, and there are other obvious limits, but there might be something no one from this world could think of."

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"What happens if something is drastically changed while transformed, like something turned to salt then dissolved in water or something turned to wood being burned?  I suppose turning iron ingots to clay to reshape them would be easier than forging them, if the new shape is kept when they turn back into metal.  Is that something done here that works?"  She's also still trying to think of any advanced materials that could be useful.  The rare metals like cobalt are valuable, but mostly in complex things like batteries that she doesn't know how to make.  Plastic is useful, but for its durability and ease of cleaning.  It might take her a while to come up with anything.  

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After some discussion, it transpires that these transmutations can last only up to a few hoursr, and are limited to specific materials. Salt is not possible; plastic has never been tried. Cobalt is possible, though it seems they have not yet developed batteries and need a detour to clarify how those work.

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Verity recounts what she immediately can about batteries, which is mostly that they can store electricity but not how it's accomplished.  She knows a bit more about electricity in general, and can make a quick overview and note that she does know how to generate it with magnets and copper wire.  Plastic is even more complicated.  The method they use to create it requires sludge-like substances that certain Moves create, which can be refined in some complex manner.  She doesn't know if there's a natural equivalent to it.

She's curious if they know what the pattern is between what materials can and can't result from transmutation.  Metal and stone and wood but not salt seems like a strange combination.  Maybe she could puzzle through it with more examples?

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"Not all metals can be transmuted in that way. My suspicion is that only substances we've learned to use as materials in construction of objects can be transmuted; it's proving to be a challenging theory to test within my lifetime."

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"Huh!  That does fit...  What counts as a constructed object?" she asks, briefly silently wondering if this should be better saved until later.  Well, she's not getting hurried along yet that she's noticed, "Presumably meals don't count, if salt doesn't.  Or possibly it's just not a large enough component?  Could you transmute something so it becomes made of potato?"  She guesses a few more reasonable materials - glass, paper, silk.  

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Paper has not been tested. There is a brief conference with Marin about what ‘paper’ means before they conclude that they write on animal-based material. He has tested clothes and glass to no avail.

”I admit, I’m curious about how your world uses paper. Here, we treat writing a luxury; I've never learned how, myself, although I would have liked to. It never made sense to spend the time on it.”

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"We make paper from finely-shredded wood which is mixed into a wood-and-water slurry then pressed into thin sheets.  It's mostly used in art, for drawing and painting."

"Everyone on the fleet learns to read as children.  It's more useful when there are devices that let people send written messages instantly and easily access stores of written knowledge.  Paper is an intermediate between that and this - books and letters which are written and carried around manually from place to place."  She tries to remember what history they'd managed to piece together on how that occurred.  "I think stamps that let people easily make multiple copies of the same text was important in this."

"What does 'animal-based' mean?"

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"Alan, don't forget that we have other business to attend to."

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"-of course. Ah, 'animal-based' refers to any products that we kill animals for. Animals are living resources that reproduce sexually, the way humans do. Among the materials we can extract from them is the skin that we use for writing. We also use them as food."

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"Ah, I hadn't realized they left corpses like humans instead of vanishing like daemons."

It sounds like it could be important that they have a source of skin and bones without the moral issues of using human remains.  Some religious minorities from the smaller ships had traditions of taking a bone to be carved into a remembrance totem, but anything larger or more practical was taboo.  She wouldn't have thought of using skin in place of paper.  And food... would that be a specific organ, or...?

As curious as she is, she'll wrap up the current discussion without asking her questions right now.  Those seem like things that most people here will know.  Hopefully she'll be able to remember her curiosity later on since it seems she won't be able to write a note to herself easily.  

What does the next of the four emissaries have to say?

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He gives her an overview. Wardens can detect lies. They can are more athletic, acrobatic, and resilient in harsh environmental conditions. Not only do they heal more easily, but they tend to be more challenging to strike a tblow against in battle. Most of these benefits come from their songs. They sing about historical figures: brave heroes and inspirational leaders of the past. Sometimes they can even summon spectral versions of them to help defend the Innangard. Wardens can create miniature versions of their Innangard around objects and people, protecting them from the Utgard. They can experience the feelings of their community, sometimes sharing them between different people. They can treat anxiety, chasing away fear and anger, or motivating their allies.

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