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Dec 02, 2022 12:20 AM
druids need math tutoring too
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That is honestly something she doesn't have a good idea of how much she has, for INT tasks.

(She definitely doesn't have it in STR, that much is blatantly obvious.)

That said, verifications are generally easier than proofs, even when you're doing them on human spaghetti brains instead of computers!

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Griffie will call break when they both seem to be flagging a bit, then. Which takes a while. Does Jane want to chat, or not really?

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For soneone who will happily ramble off on tangents given half an excuse, she's actually pretty shy - but she is vibrating with questions, even if it's unlikely she'll express them unprompted, especially being this intellectually drained.

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Griffie has gotten a fair amount of practice trying to guess what people are thinking when they're being actively deceptive about it. Jane isn't trying that, and they've also been interacting for an extended period.

"You look like you want to ask me questions. Feel free to go ahead."

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"So I picked up a lot of the - you've got a positive energy plane and souls and probably alignment bullshit of one of several flavors and don't get me started on just how bloody stupid alignment is as an interpersonal indication, because it was originally designed as a faction system, but how does your matter work?  ...Oh wow I should show you some Opus Magnum it's got this - it will either be eerily accurate or hilariously wrong about everything ever and I don't know which and it'll be interesting to find out, I have a -" .gif of a solution handy!

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Griffie looks at the animations. "So, substance names tend to translate interestingly when I talk to baryonic-matter people. I'm going to say some words a few times and you should try pushing on the translation effect. I'll comment on the animations after that, I just want to get us on the same page. Anyway. When I'm in the bar with people like you, Bar maintains a safe-for-everyone mix of air and Air so all her clients can breathe comfortably."

Griffie then repeats 'air' and 'Air' a few times. Pushing further on definitions expands the first word to "gaseous quark-based exotic matter" or "diatomic nitrogen and oxygen and such" and the second word to "Elemental Air" or, if Jane really pushes, "Suaal-typical gaseous matter for breathing" and such.

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"Mhm, Air isn't air, Earth isn't earth - well, I imagine that time it kind of is a bit more than the Air/air distinction...Anyway.  Fire definitely isn't fire, and Water's also probably not water, and who even knows - well, you would - about how positive and negative energy interact with that, and then there's the Astral probably, plus...Huh, how is heritability happening in your world?  Is that a soul interaction, or is there a DNA analogue, or something else?  ...And then there's however magic works as a force, plus divinity, and...well, if there isn't a profound amount of emergent complexity I'll be very surprised!  And I'm guessing you don't have a quasi-elemental plane of Salt in your locale, or, if you do, that it's not an atomic primitive in the way this depicts.  Let alone the separation of metals from Earth entirely.  ...If salt's Earth plus negative, would metal be Earth plus positive, or does it need Fire?"

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"Salt is not earth plus negative energy. Why would something as biologically important as salt be negative-energy-ish. The silveriness of the Astral plane is a positive-negative energy interaction, not an elemental phenomenon. Fire is not oxidization, Water is not molecular, Earth is not a planet known for its carbon-based organisms nor is it … I think your rocks are mostly silicate minerals. Anyway, Earth is not that either. Metal is also a form of Earth. Getting more specific, there is not a publicly known alchemical process for lastingly converting [Earth] lead into [Earth] gold, and [Earth] mercury is not known for improving other metals. It's actually pretty bad for [Earth] aluminum, for one. There is a bioalchemical information storage structure affecting heredity, though developmental environment is also important. A soul is drawn from the positive energy plane by the developing body in a natural ritual, the parents' souls don't reproduce. Explaining quintessence would get into alignment and divinity, do you want to keep talking alchemy or do you want to switch to that? It's definitely not a fusion of the four elements, though."

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"Beats me why Salt would be that way but I've sure seen it built like that once.  I think it's because people think of it as a dessicant.  And yeah, this alchemy is clearly only superficially similar to Suaal.  ...You have a meaningful Quintessence in your cosmology slash physics model?  ...The other question is, how the hell do you have - wow, I'm finding a lot of things weirdly absurd considering that I know nothing - how do metals happen from Earth?"

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Griffie looks amused. "You could say that quintessence is the meaningful thing in my worldsheaf's cosmology slash physics model. Which is not really fair, I'm not going to say that your experiences are fundamentally meaningless, but… you haven't been radiating particles of math-teaching-ness that I know of, and I have in fact been radiating particles of math-learning-ness. I mean, I haven't assembled a proper quintessence inspection toolkit yet and it's not very much quintessence but based on my understanding of physics I was in fact radiating particles of math-learning-ness. And metals are molecular, consisting primarily of Earth, though mercury is notable for its Water content."

(Griffie has made jokes about entities that don't produce quintessence being fundamentally meaningless before, but ey doesn't want Jane to actually think Griffie thinks she doesn't matter.)

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She bursts out laughing, though it's...perhaps strained would do; she seems shocked.  "That's certainly quintessential, alright!  How does it happen?  It's so - A fundamental particle of meaning!  It's - wondrous and fell, absurd and straightforward, meaningfully meaningless...Oh, if only I could truly express the fundamental contradiction!  There's a meaning to your everything, except that it's only understood by what you make of it!  Well, except for the alignment nonsense."

That, of all things, the snark that seeps into her voice as she Has Opinions About Alignment, seems to get her head screwed back on straight.  "Really, I'm not sure how it persists in the designers' handbooks; I suppose it lives via inertia and expectation?  But you don't find something in the space your world buckets in without the concept of alignment somewhere, no matter how vestigial, and the definitions get weirder by the day even as the rules significance reliably decreases.  Fourth edition only had Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil as linear extremes, and then 5e pretty much didn't even have alignment affect anything except Outsiders in the first place, which...well, if they had to, it made any sense, but really, they could have just dropped the names and gone for planar entity soul buckets sorting according to specific traits or something rather than having the grand go-'round about what the hells Law and Chaos actually are again, or the deontology-vs.-consequentialism, or the 'what the hell actually is Evil, anyway' question, like, there's any argument to be made that selfishness-vs.-selflessness is what most clearly maps to that axis but then the rules text of the spells that make undead say it's full-stop Evil no matter what the fuck you're doing or how the fuck you're doing it, without a single diegetic explanation, and - fuck!  I'm ranting about alignment!  I wasn't supposed to start ranting about alignment!

"Anyway, the 3.5e-and-Pathfinder cluster tends to have rules consequences and narrative consequences to alignment, which is actually part of why I assumed you were a druid earlier - you just don't strike me as quite Lawful enough for a paladin despite the absurdly worthy quest you're on, you're not cursed like an oracle to my admittedly limited ability to notice, there's no holy symbol on you so you're clearly not a cleric - well, unless you're self-powered, which I can't rule out, exactly, but I think there's still a holy symbol required for casting, and there's nothing with that pride-of-place - and I don't know anybody else who gets Cures on their spell list.  Maybe binders, but you're not spookily channeling a vestige.  I suppose there's celestial warlocks from the 5e-sphere, for healing spells, but...nah.  You're not that sort of aggressive negotiator.  And you wouldn't want to be in debt to a higher entity even more than you didn't-want to be in potential debt with me.

"...Wow, I really don't know what the fuck that was but it sure...was, whatever it was.  Do remind me to link you a copy of the relevant rules documents and RPG Stackexchange, even if I'm sure there's no way the peasant railgun is real there's probably something useful there.

She remembers something, and blinks.  "I forgot to consider the half-casters!  Damn!  Wait, are druids half-casters or is it just that turning into a bear sometimes helps?  ...Unlike giant snakes.  ...And inquisitors are fucking sneaky, if I recall correctly, so maybe they wouldn't need a symbol, but frankly, that's just reaching on my part.  Still, my best guess for what you do for adventuring is 'druid', and I'm really curious if I got that right.  ...Oh, and you can't be a monk in that armor.  ...I suppose there's also multiclassing...

 

"...Good grief, I opened my mouth and then that happened."

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"You seem to have interacted with some games somewhat related to my world but not quite and keep asking questions based on that. So I guess I'll ask you: does your world have a 'crown plague' that's made going places difficult, a 'bay of good herbs' that's a place some people want to move to, or people building very large machines? Anyway, I don't really know where to start with responding to your queries so I'll just go out of order."

"Regarding your speculation about my capabilities: I do tend to delegate negotiations but even if I was much better at aggressive negotiations I probably wouldn't have bothered here, I want to pay you a reasonable rate for providing me value and you don't seem to disagree so there's not much to negotiate. I actually currently owe my party members some money, I just don't like open-ended debts. And some people do non-divine magical healing with arcane alchemy or tapping into the power of narrative and such, I'm just not one of those. I'm currently sphere-5 capable, same as the party wizard. I haven't used a bear or a snake form, but I don't see why the latter wouldn't be helpful, I've done some good work with a snake summon."

"Regarding alignment: What would you expect it to be if not a factional approximation?" Griffie fishes in eir bag and pulls out a small vial of a clear liquid.

"This is a vial of quintessence-infused Water. You can call it good-aligned, or celestial, or holy, or you can be rude and refer to the caring of the Upper Planes as pity if you like. But all of those are words, and they're only approximations. This was produced by a town-dwelling cleric of Iklena, so it's probably specifically high in quintessence for working together for a common benefit, helping those in your community who need it, cooperation, understanding, that sort of thing. And I call these good, and a lot of people call these good, and they circulate spell patterns for detecting this sort of thing and call their spell patterns 'Detect Good'."

"And given that individuals give off quintessence, you can detect it and make judgements based on that, but measuring it on the typical person is a massive pain. Worse, there's ways to get quintessence on yourself without having done something it's fair to judge you for. Being a victim of a ritual sacrifice might coat your soul in gunk that makes it easier for torture-y gods to grab hold of you, same as performing such a sacrifice, but that doesn't make the victim and the murderer both morally responsible! I met a fairly nice fellow once who was, perhaps, self-centered, but from a quintessence standpoint he looked incredibly evil due to having been stuck in the court of a powerful evil sorceress. And he probably did some bad things ever, but mostly he ran illusory dance parties and he was a very helpful person."

"Undead seem to have backdoors in their souls. There aren't known examples of intelligent undead capable of reliably refraining from immoral actions, and not because nobody would be interested if such entities did exist."

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"Not that I know of, but Bar, do you have any responsive documents for mention of 'Suaal' or any of those other terms, from my world?  That sure sounds like someone's campaign.

"As far as alignment goes..."

She pauses a moment, to collect her thoughts.

"Alignment originating from quintessence-detection actually makes sense in a way some platonic Lawful Good existing doesn't, and I bet that the AI safety researchers would kill to be able to have the toolbox to design those sorts of spells, because...It actually detects alignment with a given set of values.  For some values of alignment, at least, and honestly in a vacuum that's all they'd need.  I'm guessing you have Malediction or something like that, which could be a complicating factor, but still, the ability to concisely express things like that...

"Anyway.  Your alignment precedes and causes the observed factions, it is not your factions which precede and cause your alignment.

"Which happens the other way around in most sourcebooks."

 

"...And jumping back to something else: Undead have soul-level exploits?  What the fuuuuuuuck.  That's really weird.  Never roll your own crypto, I guess, even if in this case it's negative-energy Soul-OS.  Who's even exploiting that?  Evil gods?  How the fuck do they?  That's so weird...  Like, not that it's implausible, but - oh, so do positive souls, that's just enchantment.  Duh.  Damn.  Someone wanted that behavior.

"...Well, on an exdiegetic level one must assume that's game-rules-aligned, rather than necessarily malicious in-universe action, but it's still fucked-up."

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Is Jane interested in the fact that the Arabic for "question" as a noun sounds kind of like Suaal, especially if you mispronounce a transliteration thereof? If not, Bar doesn't have publications from Jane's world on the subject.

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"The conventional wisdom is that gods and mortals probably co-evolved, because gods are quintessence beings and there's a feedback loop there. And enchantment takes work to develop, and charms and compulsions both have failure modes. I suppose 'Lawful Good is just a fundamental thing' might make things simpler for fiction, though."

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"It sure does.  Doesn't make it good writing, though."

Oh, a napkin.  Suaal being mispronounced Arabic?  Doesn't sound cromulent.

"...Hmm."

She muses.

"Anything for a 'bay of good herbs' or 'crown plague' slash royal plague in general?"

"...Wait, is that just a word for pandemic?  Historical pandemics around big industrializations...

"'Bay of good herbs', probably in a not-English language, plus...Spanish flu, maybe?"

Bar?

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Bar can get Jane some Wikipedia articles from her world on coronaviruses and haemophilia in European royalty, the latter of which led to hemophilia being called "the royal disease". As for a bay of good herbs, there is Yerba Buena (meaning 'good herb' in Spanish), now known as San Francisco.

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"...I meant that to be a logical and, but thank you, that's helpful.  San Francisco, huh?  Then search Spanish flu."

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"I try to be of service."

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She nods.

"...Anyway, yeah, that's all I've got; I'd suggest looking for historical analogues of your people, but it won't help all that much even if you're really in a San-Fran-alogue.  Too much potential variance."

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"I did hear that a lot of Earths have an Emmy Noether. Not usually an archmage, though."

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"I think she's a mathematician, which is sort of like an archmage because computers are the closest thing my Earth natively supports.

"So what even is the crown plague?  What's it do?"

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"It was in a game some people I know were playing. I didn't play in it and it's not a publication, I can't actually tell you much about it?"

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"Oohhhhh.  I get it now.  Yes it is possible that you had fiction go back the other way!  ...If you exist in someone's TTRPG campaign, that has a TTRPG campaign of real-Earth - real in this case being 'clearly not mine anymore' because it would've very probably had Suaal...

"I wonder what level of fiction I'm on?  And how many degrees of separation from Suaal-itself.

"Anyway, infinite multiverse, infinite monkeys, infinite typewriters, probably not my circus.

"...What's up with those -" She catches herself before she says something, with a wince of reflexive self-critical distaste like she thought something wrong - "fellows, anyway?"

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"With all the cushions? They're using an intoxicant, not one I'm familiar with. They wanted help with safe administration and some monitoring at the beginning, but at this point if something was going to go wrong it would have. I'm still on call, though."

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