Jul 06, 2020 12:07 PM
Belmarniss in Fullmetal Alchemist
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"Hm. So, cultural things - I think this is mostly alchemists culturally... 'Equivalent exchange' is a big philosophical thing? The law of equivalent exchange is a major basis for alchemy, where it's literal - 'nothing can be gained without first sacrificing something of equal or greater value' - and people tend to apply it to general life things. Most alchemists try to really strongly avoid having debts or sometimes having people in debt to them. It's supposed to be bad luck. Which might actually be true, equivalent exchange tends to catch up to you hard if you try to dodge it... And this is generally reflected a smaller amount in non-alchemists?"

"Also, laws are really strict, and the military rules absolutely. The press is controlled centrally. There's sometimes a lot more leeway for alchemists, though, especially ones willing to work with the state. 'Publicly insulting the military or the Fuhrer' is the big group of illegal things that tends to get foreigners in trouble..."

"Central City doesn't currently have a curfew in effect, but those sometimes get declared, too. If a city declares a curfew they're serious about it and will arrest people for being out at the wrong hours."

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"Huh. What constitutes an insult?"

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"Complaining about a specific member of the military being a dick is generally okay, though if that person overhears you they'll usually have more avenues for getting you in trouble than you have for getting out of it. Calling state alchemists 'dogs of the military' or calling soldiers murderers or saying the Ishvalan War was a massacre or a genocide tends to get people in trouble. Backhand complimenting the Fuhrer is alright, and some journalists get away with very neutrally couched things like listing numbers dead in a conflict, but you shouldn't say the Fuhrer is criminally mishandling something, or sing bawdy songs about him, or call him a fool, or say he should be removed from office."

"People tend to care a lot more about 'criticizing policy decisions' type things than 'keeping a solemn appearance' type things - you can wiggle out of mocking the military a lot more easily, and it's way easier to get away with saying something in semi-private than with shouting it on a street corner or making pamphlets about it. I think a lot of the time censorship laws are also used against people the military was looking for an easy excuse to arrest in the first place?"

"Things are also more strict here in Central City, since it's the capitol. Rural areas or anywhere without a strong military presence are less likely to bother with enforcing censorship laws."

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"Makes sense. Uh, I could probably have gotten most of this with an 'elaborate on that', maybe this is a good time for me to earn my pocket money." She looks at Emma.

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"Right." She flips to a new page in her notebook. "What are the basic guiding principles of using spells?"

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"They are typically cast with a gesture and a word though either or both can be omitted with specialist knowledge. Some also require a material substance consumed by the spell or an object to focus on while casting. They are renewed every day with sleep, time invested in advance preparation, or both. They come in levels; the most common types of spellcaster can cast spells of their own level divided by two rounded up. Spell levels go from zero to nine. Zero-level spells may be cast any number of times per day, others get slots. You get more slots as you level up and most spells also get more powerful. Spells are divided into several schools which loosely group their effects - transmutation is one, others are evocation, enchantment, necromancy, conjuration, abjuration, divination. A handful are of no school."

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"How are new spells made?"

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"Wizards invent arcane spells; I think gods invent divine ones."

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"...Gods?"

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"An ontologically distinct category of powerful being. Not actually the only kind that can grant spells to clerics, a type of magical priest, but the archetypical kind."

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"Huh."

"Do spells obey the natural laws around conservation of mass and energy?"

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"Not at all."

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" - There are a lot of experiments I can think up to do with that and our alchemy, since something like 'conservation of mass and energy' is generally considered the one and only limit on alchemy, though I'm unsure right now whether alchemy would even acknowledge magic to exist... Or how dangerous that'd be to test..."

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"Dangerous how?"

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"The natural law governing alchemy is 'equivalent exchange' and not 'conservation' because things get weird once you stop messing with physical objects and start using esoteric alchemy - mostly anything involving souls. For instance, the main ingredient for the array binding my sister's soul to her armor was 'my right arm,' which sounds insane in the context of normal alchemy. Arrays that don't properly account for their ingredients or what the alchemist wants out of them can also have unforeseen effects in general, which depending on the ingredients can be dangerous, though as far as I know on a scale of 'the thing you were transmuting is now poison gas' and not on 'massive explosion.' Alchemists who're very incautious with esoteric alchemy tend to wind up dead."

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"That does sound concerning, yep."

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"It's probably possible to experiment safely, but I'd want to think about it for more than a few minutes."

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"Super reasonable."

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"Is there anything obviously or commonly dangerous to a spell user from using spells?"

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"Uh, if you do a dumbass thing like cast fireball on your own location you will be harmed."

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"No tendencies towards magical backlash?"

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"Not unless the spell normally behaves that way for some reason, no."

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"Seems... friendly."

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"I guess? If you learn to swordfight the sword won't leap out of your hands and attack you; you could make a mistake, or, like, stab yourself, but it's not unfriendly."

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"Concrete alchemy isn't that unfriendly either, I suppose."

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