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Feb 18, 2020 2:44 AM
A thread for comparing and discussing the types of people in different worlds
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My galaxy has a lot of species in it, I don't know all of them. There's hundreds at the least, possible thousands. We've got humans too, they're the most populous species.

They seem like the best common reference point. So, Aeldari (my species) have roughly the same body plan as humans, but we're taller, stronger, faster, smarter, longer lived, have better senses, overall just better. The Exodites and Asuryani are also psychic.

There's three big cultural divisions between the Aeldari, varying on their response to the fall of our empire, plus some weird edgecase-y ones,. The Exodites left first before things got very bad, live on planets, aren't that keen on tech, pretty nice. The Asuryani left later but still before the fall, live on space ships, like tech, but are really rigid. The Drukhari... didn't change their behaviour, even after it caused the Fall. Lots of torture, lots of slavery, lots of being pretty terrible. 

I'm ex-Drukhari, and currently part of one of the weird edge cases called 'corsairs'.

Intelligence might be correlated to brain size in my galaxy, but I don't really have anyway to, like, check. Wouldn't surprise me though.


I wonder if the humans share your opinion that your species is better than them.


Well, they wouldn't, and that's one of the reasons they are worse?


I don't suppose you're acquainted with the notion in formal logic known as ‘circular reasoning’?


As if the Drukhari would teach their footsoldiers logic :P

(I don't know what formal logic is, but I'm picturing logic in a very fancy dress. Lots of ruffles. That's probably not what it is.)


Ha, no. Formal logic is logic as a discipline of systematic study, especially as a branch of mathematics, though in practise it may compass a range from maths to rhetoric.

Logical reasoning is structured as a series of small, individually obvious steps chained together, in the form "because that this is true, it follows that that is true; and because that is true, it follows that the other is true; and (...)". In casual and rhetorical use, the order is sometimes reversed, as "the other is true, because that is true; and that is true because this is true".

Circular reasoning is the fallacy or error of this sequence leading back to the starting point. For example, the argument "I am trustworthy; you know this because a trustworthy source has vouched for me; you know that source (me) to be trustworthy because..." leads in a circle.

This is sometimes referred to as "pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps"; the image is of attempting to lift oneself off the ground by taking hold of one's boots and pulling upward. (To be clear, this does not work.)


(In Danish we have the expression "pulling boot-hooks", but it refers to the first necessary step of a self-sustaining process, like the preparation an ordinator performs when it's turned on, or taking the first estimates of the uncertainty of measurements in order to estimate the accuracy of a statistic calculated from them. In English I believe it's just "assuming the conclusion", but the Taitsh phrase "lifting oneself from the ground by the hair" seems reasonably similar!)

I'm not sure the species-judgement quite qualifies, but "humans are inferior (partially) because they do not agree they are inferior" is definitely logically suspect. One of the things it means for a statement to be unsound under formal logic is that it would apply just as well to false claims as true ones, which makes the statement rather unconvincing!


The people of my world are humans, witches, and panserbjørn. There is a great deal of academic disagreement about whether witches are human, because they are interfertile with us, but they are all female, capable of magic, immune to the cold, and unharmed by age, and seem to be psychologically distinct beyond the effects of the physical differences and culture. Panserbjørn are very unambiguously nonhuman; they are like very large white bears, but with opposable thumbs and differently structured faces. They live in the far North, and do not interact much with humans, other than as metallurgists and mercenaries, but they are rumored not to have emotions and to be impossible to successfully lie to, and they have armor but do not have souls.

There were reports of seemingly-alien animals, and potentially people, in the far North about forty years ago, before the magnetic fields shifted, when it was the primary location for investigating the multiple material worlds hypothesis.

I believe I may be in the process of proving the existence and presence of Angels! I have some promising measurements and photograms, but am still working on communication.


That makes a whole lot of sense.

So, it may not follow, like, the formal rules of logic, but the steps of the reasoning are this:  Humans are very very bad at understanding and predicting what Aeldari will do (for ex, thinking Craftworlders want to eat their children, not realising Drukhari will totally stab you in the back). They also think they are better than us. And maaaaaaybe, they are, but their very bad understanding implies that they might be wrong.

We, however, are much better at understanding and predicting humans! So even if that's not proof, we're better, it's evidence that we're more likely to be right about think we are better than the humans are.

What does it mean for the Panserbjørne to not have a soul? Where I'm from, not having a soul is not... subtle. Can't really miss it.


Oh! Yes, I suppose souls might be somewhat different for people in other material worlds.

Humans and witches have souls, although humans' souls stay close and witches' souls can travel far away from them. In early history, humans often believed witches did not have souls, because they saw witches whose souls were elsewhere.

Some species-complementarian theologians once believed that panserbjørn's armor acted as their souls, but this has been proved false: There are regions of land where souls cannot go, but the minds and bodies of humans and witches can; panserbjørn can enter them, even wearing their armor. Additionally, there is not a measurable Maystadt bond between a panserbjørn and his or her armor, and the Rusakov particle patterns around the armor are more like those around a carefully crafted and often-used item than those around a soul. This makes sense, because they craft their own armor, rather than being born with it.

So, it is indeed very difficult not to notice that panserbjørn don't have souls, unless you are so determined to believe that they do have souls that you stretch and rationalize the definition of a soul to include their armor.


Souls work a lot of different ways where I live. I'm not sure I've ever met someone whose soul could go away from them without taking their mind - I know someone who can project his soul out, but his body stays behind to tether it to the world. But then again I'm not someone who studies souls or magic, just someone who travels a lot. I think most people who have souls have ones that live inside of them, and most people will either die or stop being able to think if they lose their soul, though some kinds I'm aware of just lose their morality. I know someone from a purely material world where no one has souls; she once accidentally gained a soul through a complicated series of events, and described it as feeling warm, and it gave her new magic (that type of soul being linked to a different world's magic system) but didn't do much else. It's interesting how souls play different roles in different places!

What's a Maystadt bond, or Rusakov particle pattern?


...I guess our souls can move away from us, but it's very difficult? And very dangerous. Taking your soul out of your body is a very good way for your soul to get lost and eaten, and something else move into your body. And, if your soul goes somewhere, you go there? Like, not your body, but your self?  I am so not an expert on this, so I'm not that helpful :P

When people don't have a soul, it's pretty obvious. They feel wrong, and sometimes this wrongness manifests itself physically (ie some of them stink all the time), sometimes they just feel off. And they can also cancel out the powers of psykers. (Psykers are basically people with extra strong souls, that they can use to do things with? Again, not an expert.)

And the idea of being able to gain a soul is neat. Would be real useful for the people who don't have one in my world.


Next time I'm at a university I can try to find the case study, but I think it's a quirk of this world, and how it enables magic systems to spread, unfortunately.


Aah, that's a shame. Makes sense though.


... I'm concerned that our definitions of souls are different enough that we are actually writing about different things. By "soul", I mean the part of a human or witch that exists outside their body and shaped like a non-intelligent animal but is capable of speech, changes shapes during their adolescence, shares their personality and emotions, socializes parallely, aids in complex decision-making, and dissolves upon their death. If a person's soul dies, they die. Is there a different word for "soul" in your dialects? I believe souls are sometimes referred to as "daemons" in Insular English, or "Dämonen" in some non-Taitsh dialects of Deutsch, although the connotations might be different.

There is fiction about humans whose souls are removed (possibly based on poorly-documented also possibly-fictional historical practices in some countries where the souls of some slaves were medically or magically crippled), or who don't have souls because they are reanimated corpses, which became more popular to write into horror stories a few decades ago after some related unethical failed experiments a rogue branch of the Church had performed came to light. However, it is not actually possible to destroy a soul without killing its person. I suppose witches' souls might get lost, since they travel far away, but they probably have magic for finding each other.

I'll answer the questions about Rusakov particles and Maystadt bonds in a separate particle philosophy thread, since it doesn't seem completely in line with the thread's topic.


I'm not acquainted with anything in my world that quite matches what you describe, although some of those traits are reminiscent of familiars, particularly if certain theories are true.

A familiar resembles an ordinary animal; though it is more intelligent than one, it is almost never capable of human speech. It lives longer than an ordinary animal of the species it resembles, but still usually dies before its master. Witches are no more likely than wizards to lose their familiars.

Some scholars hold that a witch or wizard's bond with their familiar, if they have one, is similar to their bond with their wand, which is not quite the same as the familiar being a part of its master, but I could understand how the two might be confused at first sight.

Some people believe that nonmagical humans lack "souls", which in my language refers to the nonphysical aspect of a person that is the seat of consciousness, higher reason, and conscience, and that upon the body's death either continues to the afterlife or remains as a ghost. Ritual magic involving the soul is sometimes considered taboo, especially among people culturally influenced by certain religious beliefs popular among nonmagical humans. Nonmagical humans never have familiars.

Some nonmagical humans, especially those holding certain religious beliefs, think that witches and wizards make use of "demons", which are supposed to be a type of malicious spirit. I am not aware of any reputable evidence that demons exist.


To clarify, witches are at least theoretically capable of misplacing their souls, because their souls are able to move far away from them, unlike humans, whose souls can only travel a short distance. My world doesn't have "wizards" as a species at all, although the term was historically used to refer to hypothetical miracle-workers for false religions.

We usually consider to the part of a person that holds their reasoning to be their mind, which materially corresponds to the brain, and the part of a person that holds their conscience to be their soul, and their consciousness to be contained in both, although there is some overlap. I'm not aware of any evidence that ghosts or spirits are real in my world, although I believe some experimental theologians do study the possibility.

Where do familiars come from, if you are not born with them and do not die with them? Are they made of material flesh?


They are made of flesh, yes. They are usually bred from magical animals; my own familiar, for example, is a Kneazle.


I know of only two types of person native to my original world, those being humans and cherubs, although I believe there are additional types of person in distant parts of the universe which were never explored by humans. Humans have all the features attributed to humans by Riley above, except that we have only four fingers per hand including the thumb. The human species exists to produce, distribute, and play Sburb.

Cherubs are scaly, winged, green humanoids. They are hermaphroditic; that is, each individual has both male and female gametes and genetalia. They do however have two distinct mating types which can each only reproduce with the other. They reproduce by laying eggs, and each cherub hatches with two separate minds one of which will eventually subsume the other. Cherubs interact with each other only to mate and to fight over territory, but interact with other species in other capacities. They are able to move themselves through magic and to survive indefinitely in vacuum, and each cherub typically has a territory comprising numerous star systems. I do not know what role Cherubs are supposed to play in Sburb, although I know they have one.

I have also encountered trolls, sprites, consorts, carapacians, denizens, and horrorterrors. Trolls are fairly similar to humans in cosmological function and in body plan but have a number of biological differences. Humans reproduce as Riley described and exit our mothers' bodies in approximately the shape we will continue to have throughout our lives. Trolls on the other hand form from a slurry of repeatedly dividing and recombining reproductive cells provided by many parents and contained inside a symbiotic "mother grub", which the mother grub periodically induces to develop into eggs which then hatch into segmented, many-legged, armless larvae which eventually pupate and emerge in a more human-like form. Trolls do not have distinct sexes, genders, or types of gamete.

Troll blood varies widely in color, and troll metabolic rate and rate of senescence varies greatly depending on blood pigmentation with brown-blooded trolls having similar life expectancies to humans in comparable economic conditions while purple-blooded trolls live for thousands of years and can grow to enormous sizes. There are two subspecies of trolls, one of which can sometimes develop psychic powers with the specific powers depending on blood pigmentation and sometimes become ghosts after they die, the other of which has gills and is therefore able to breathe underwater. Trolls have also conquered a number of other cosmologically similar species about which I know less.

Sprites consume objects and develop personalities based on those objects. If the object in question is a corpse, this process can be used to resurrect the dead. If it is an animal, it can be used to uplift that animal to sapience. If it is not and has never been an animal, the sprite can still develop a personality. In addition to personality features developed through this process, each sprite has a pre-programmed body of knowledge of Sburb and of the path Sburb has laid out for its players, and dispenses that information (and any other information it knows or finds out) in such a way as to guide the players down that path, generally in a frustratingly cryptic manner.

Consorts are small, stupid bipeds who mostly exist to be victims to the attacks of monsters and denizens and to sell stuff to Sburb players. There are a number of different species of consort with different life cycles and habits but in general they are naive and excitable and reproduce by laying eggs.

Carapacians do not reproduce naturally at all under most circumstances, but can be manufactured by advanced biotech facilities such as the ones on this meteor. There are a number of specialist types of carapacian such as enormous living (and sapient) siege engines, but most are of the standard "pawn" model which is largely humanoid, although with an exoskeleton. A carapacian generally has a social function they really enjoy serving and are very dedicated to. Normally this is whatever function they were made for, but some reject than function in favor of another. Carapacians as a species exist to fight eternal wars over Skaias, to create biotech facilities, to serve as the final bosses and mid-to-late-game NPCs of Sburb, and to repopulate planets after Sburb wipes out their native populations.

Denizens do not reproduce; they are created by Sburb directly. Denizens are enormous serpentine beings with immense magical powers who curse planets and create monsters. They like to offer people narratively interesting choices.

Horrorterrors are not part of the Sburb lifecycle; rather they exist outside of it. They are enormous tentacled monsters with enormous and dangerous magical power who live in the Outer Ring. Understanding them too well or communicating with them too much causes possession by them and insanity. I do not know whether or how they reproduce.


Update: Angels are real! I have successfully communicated with an Angel! There seems to only be one present near this town. I found a meditation technique that makes it possible to communicate with them through a dust-planchette and symbol-board, and I took readings to make sure I was not the one influencing its movement, and was not! I'll need to wait for the university's theological supervisor to review my preliminary findings, and then I can apply for another grant to study this! The Angel recommended I get a trepanation so that they can communicate with me directly. I'm not entirely confident I can do it myself, so I'll be visiting a doctor this weekend!

Angels seem to be made almost entirely of Rusakov particles. If you are extremely careful not to overexpose the photogram, which takes much less time than usual, it's possible to make out details of Angelic forms! I don't have pictures from enough angles to form even a rudimentary three-dimensional representation, but in the pictures I do have, they look like dizzyingly impossible architecture, or projection-diagrams of high-dimensional polytopes. They're faintly visible as glowing regions of yellow or blue light in the air, in dim lighting, but it's very hard to make out unless you're prepared for it. I'll report back with further details once I've got a clearer method of communication!


How would drilling holes in your skull allow this angel to communicate directly with you? This seems like an important decision which should be considered very carefully and with all possible relevant evidence. I am concerned. 


Bone is a mild insulator for Rusakov particles, and the skull is thick enough to attenuate delicate signals. The angel says they could establish some direct contact now, but would not have enough fine control at the energy level needed to pass through my skull to my brain to communicate clearly, and that it would be slightly riskier to me, and they want to collaborate on research. After the procedure, they'll be able to communicate with me in words and images while I meditate!

There's some historical precedent for the procedure; many Tartar and Skraeling tribes have or had traditions of trepanation to speak with "gods", now speculated to have actually been angels, if the surviving records of communication were accurate at all. Overall, it seems to be a straightforward procedure with no real drawbacks or major risks other than the time wasted if it doesn't work, and a new avenue of research if it does, so there's no reason to delay starting. Thank you for the concern, and if you still have theological questions, I'll answer them to the best of my ability, given the states of relevant records.


Wait, are your skull structures somehow different from the ones I'm familiar with? I'm pretty sure doing shit like that is going to result in exposing your head and brain to infection, especially if you need to leave it uncovered for this communication thing.


Oh! Goodness, no. There's a small risk of infection, as there is for any surgery, but they'll just make a large enough incision to make a small hole through the skull with a specialized drill, and remove the section of bone and bone-dust, then stitch the skin closed and send me home. It's also sometimes done to relieve pressure from a concussion or treat diseases or injuries already in the brain.

Possibly I should go to the library and copy information about surgical tools and disinfectants into Resource Sharing when I have the opportunity?

In my world, human skulls mostly surround our brains, are made of hard bone, and primarily shield our brains from impact-injuries, just like those of most other vertebrates. I'll try to sketch a picture of a skull into this book for comparison at some point.

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