This post has the following content warnings:
Ahmose in Worm
+ Show First Post
Total: 216
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

They what?

It's not that Ahmose knows for a fact the gods make Themselves known on every planet. In fact he knows nothing whatsoever about other planets, other than them existing. But - why wouldn't They - he can't answer that either. Maybe They all agreed to make this planet a, a sort of experiment in what happens without any gods, because They wouldn't agree on only some of Them leaving it alone?

"But - you do know about the gods? How do you know about Them, if you don't have clerics and temples? What do you know?"

Permalink

"I don't know any gods," she tells him patiently. "Because there are no gods. I don't know 'Abadar', and I don't know other gods. I'm sorry."

Sometimes there are downsides to doing everything via telepresence. Ahmose looks like he could do with a hug.

Permalink

"But then how do you know about the gods? You have a word for Them!"

Permalink

Dragon makes a face of understanding.

"People say stories," she explains. "People say that there are gods long ago, or that there are gods that don't, uh, touch the planet. But there is no seeing of gods now. But tongue has a word still."

Permalink

"The gods left? I - don't know what that means. How do you live without clerics? Healing and resurrection, clean water and plant growth, banking... Civilization should collapse without them, but you seem so rich." Ahmose is half puzzled and half disbelieving, and the deeper implications are just starting to sink in.

Permalink

Dragon goes back to looking confused. The emotional state of her avatar isn't binary, of course. It's a multidimensional gamut of expressions over which she has fine control. But it sure feels binary, bopping between showing confusion and showing compassion.

"People learned to heal by knowing bodies. We don't have 'resurrection', I think, when that word is what I think. Clean water and plant growth we have machines to help with. I don't know why a god you would need for banking?" she replies. "People don't need gods to get to know how to do things. And ... getting to know is sticky. Once a person knows, and shares, then everyone keeps knowing. Each step is hard, but there are many people to get each step."

She shows a fast-forward timeline of architecture from Ur to New York.

"People work together, and things get better."

Permalink

But - but why. Why is the world such that you have to do without the gods, when you could have Their help?

"And people are still Lawful, and Good, without priests to guide them?" The words are slightly different than the ones for plain good and evil, law and chaos, but she might not have heard those yet.

Permalink

She wrinkles her brow. She is learning the language fast, faster than a human reasonably could, even, but she's pretty sure she's missing a subtlety or two.

"One thing is, priests can guide people without needing gods?" she responds. "Other thing is, some people are Lawful and some are not. Some people are Good and some are not. People are different. But just because some people are not Good and Lawful -- it is not reason to stop trying to Good. It is not reason to stop trying to help people be Good."

Permalink

"But then how do the priests know to get it right, if they can't ask their gods? And talk to summoned outsiders from their gods' planes. Actually wizards can do that too - you don't have any conjurers either?"

Also - "of course we're Good and Lawful for - the sakes of the things themselves - for ourselves and for others - not because other people are. But it's very very hard to do it alone, and to get it right. If you have priests without gods, how can you be sure which ones are Lawful and Good and which are Neutral?" Or, well, Evil, but he hopes those would be obvious.

Permalink

She was not expecting this cape recruitment to turn into a debate on moral philosophy and how to determine what is good! Especially not with someone who is apparently a die-hard theist.

"Yes, knowing Good is hard," Dragon agrees. "Which is why we don't do it alone. We listen to other people, and we think about what Good means. We are careful, and ... we try to be kind."

She purses her lips, trying to think how to explain with her limited words.

"And ... we teach small people that they don't know, not for certain. And that we don't know either. That anyone who says they know the one true Good is lying. That the small people must try to know Good themselves, and think about what they do, and about why it would be Good or not-Good."

Permalink

It's an alluring thought, but Ahmose isn't convinced it would work well. "The Judge isn't human. She thinks some things are Good and Evil and it's not obvious why, like that killing yourself is Evil. And - most people aren't clearly one thing or the other, they make many small decisions that sum up, and actions and intentions and outcomes all matter in some way. It's just so much easier to have spells that estimate someone's judgement, and scry people in afterlives and publish statistically representative population studies of that like our government does."

"I can't really imagine living in - uncertainty, without that, but not all countries in Golarion do it either. If you remember the principles, and everyone tries to be Lawful, and Good or at least Neutral, then I guess that's the best you can do."

"Actually, I'm very surprised that wizards haven't replicated more cleric spells in your world by now! On Golarion, many wizard spells were invented by copying cleric spells. Our wizards can do almost everything clerics can, it's just much more expensive for some things, like healing and raising the dead. But they can definitely summon outsiders and scry the afterlives, don't wizards here know how to do that?" Maybe their wizards publish and cooperate even less than those on Golarion do.

Permalink

Dragon tilts her head. She is fairly sure that either she's misunderstanding him or he's crazy.

"You said several words that I don't know yet," she tells him. "What is a Judge, and why would she say what is Good and Evil? What is a spell, scrying, and wizard?"

"Afterlives is -- a place you go after living? Some people think there are afterlives, but like gods there is no sign of them. I think people just ... stop, when they are done living."

Permalink

"When people die, everything they did is judged by a goddess called Pharasma. She decides if she thinks they sum up to Good or Evil, Law or Chaos, and she sends them to the right afterlife. The nine afterlives are the Outer Planes."

"Spells are - like this?" He demonstrates Light, and the laundry spell. "Wizards are people who study magic and use spells without getting them from the gods like clerics do. You can't not have wizards, you're clearly an advanced civilization!"

Permalink

Dragon runs a quick search against existing mythologies and comes up empty, but she was somewhat expecting that by this point.

"Some people can do things like that — I can make artifacts, like the phone — but studying doesn't get you magic, because it works differently for every person. And we have people who can grant magic to others, but they're not gods, just people," she explains. "And magic is new. Nobody has had magic before fifty years. People don't need magic to be advanced, not when they work together."

She shakes her head.

"I want to talk more about this, but is it okay to bring you to the government building? It is where the government magic people are. My friend Armsmaster can look at you with his artifacts and maybe learn more."

Permalink

"I suppose arcane magic must have been invented at some point, but - fifty years ago? Who invented it here?" Can people here actually talk to the actual inventor of arcane magic, that would be so amazingly cool. "It doesn't sound like wizard magic, though. Anyone can learn wizard magic if they're smart enough, it's estimated maybe half of all people are."

"...if the law says I can leave again later if I want to, and I'm not - promising you and him anything yet, in return for your time and effort? Then yes." Ahmose is very confused about as many as several things, and consulting with local experts can only help. "Do you want to tell me where to go, or do you have a teleport or something?" Teleports are expensive, but she did say bring you. "Or - do you want me to open a bigger portal, so your suit of armor can come through?"

Permalink

"As long as you don't," she begins, and then searches for a word. "Break the law, you can leave later. The law is big, but if you don't touch people, take things, or look in secret places without asking, you won't break it. And you can ask if you don't know for certain."

"If you like it better, you can portal," she continues. "The government building is in the middle of the water at the city north of you. If you not like to portal, I can send a ... I don't know the word. A sky boat, to take you."

"Magic here was not invented," she responds to the first part of his comment. "It just started being here, no person knows how. And only very rare people have it -- one person in thousands. Can you teach people to portal?"

Permalink

He'll agree to not do those things! Except secret places, how can he tell if a place is secret before he looks in it? He can follow signs that say not to go somewhere or open something, but he can't read the local language. Or he can only go to rooms they tell him are fine, how about that.

"Portaling is fine! It would be interesting to see the sky boat, but maybe I can ask to see it later? Should I go now?"

"We call people who get magic without studying it, and are not clerics, and can use it without understanding how it works, sorcerers. There are far far fewer of them than clerics of wizards, I don't know how many but certainly not one in a few thousands. Maybe one in many tens of thousands? I don't think I can teach people to portal if they're not wizards." He also doesn't particularly want to, since he doesn't know enough to negotiate being paid properly and he doesn't know what they'd use them for, but them not being able to learn is a much better excuse.

"Sorcerer spells - can be big and complex, but I've never heard of sorcerer artificers, I thought to enchant items you had to understand what you're doing, it's not just casting a spell to make a magic item." But, well, since they can do it, he's hardly going to argue with reality.

Permalink

"I can show you the sky boat later," she agrees. "I will tell the government building you are opening a portal. Open it on the top of the building. There will be a person to hello you."

She purses her lips, thinking of how to put this.

"My magic is, I know how to build artifacts out of very small parts. I know what parts do. But other people who look at my artifacts, they can't know them. I try to tell them what all the parts do, they still don't know them. Other people put my parts together, they don't make an artifact. But I know all the parts. I don't know why other people don't know when I tell them."

"My friend Armsmaster, he has magic like mine. I know some of his parts, and he knows some of mine. We can work together to make an artifact, better than on our own. But some of his parts, he tries to tell me and I don't know them."

His excuse of not being able to teach people how to make portals is very convenient; it suggests that perhaps he is bluffing about anyone being able to become 'wizards'. She isn't sure whether to press it, but he's been perfectly cooperative so far.

"How does a person become a wizard?" she asks. "Can I try a thing to see if I am the half of people who can?"

Permalink

"I can teach you the spellform for Light!" It's the one thing he brought home from Sothis that was purely for himself, something he did because he wanted to and not simply to improve his chances of making a better portal spell. He bought a scroll and learned to read it and he reads it in bed every night, before he goes to sleep, even though he knows it by heart now. He really really wants to start casting cantrips as a proper wizard, but he couldn't justify the price of a spellbook. Next time...

"That would take some time" (an understatement, some people take months to learn it) "so let's go to the government place first."

Ahmose chains little spy-portals until he can see the government building's roof clearly. It's surrounded by a shimmering sphere that screams magic. His portals go through fine, though. He takes the illusion-device, opens a bigger portal, and steps through to the roof.

Permalink

The roof is mostly covered in dark stone, with a large encircled glyph painted in white near the center. There are a few small structures across the roof, a few of which are making humming noises.

A man in a dark uniform is standing on the roof to meet him. His uniform has various pockets, and a belt with several pouches. When he sees Ahmose arrive, he takes a small object from its place on his chest and speaks into it for a moment. Then he smiles at Ahmose and walks over a door. He taps a item from his belt against a black box beside the door, which beeps, and then he opens the door and gestures invitingly for Ahmose to enter the building with him.

Permalink

Oh right, they won't understand him. (Again.) It's amazing how quickly one can grow used to being able to talk to people and forget that languages are actually very hard to learn, much more so than a third-circle spell like Tongues.

"Will you translate for me?" he asks Dragon through her phone (illusion-scrying-mirror-device). "Or teach them my language? It would take me much, much longer to learn one of yours." Can everyone here learn languages as quickly as she can? He assumed she was a powerful wizard capable of great feats of cunning, but perhaps everyone on this world is as good at languages as Golarionites are at magic... no, that would mean half the population couldn't learn to speak - never mind. Maybe they're all very good at languages. He certainly hopes so, anyway.

And he heads into the door indicated. When he nears the guard, he smiles back, nods respectfully, taps himself on the chest and clearly enunciates "Ahmose". Politeness is important for a guest!

Permalink

"I am unusually good at learning languages," Dragon responds. "I made an artifact that helps me. Yes, I will translate."

Then she says something unintelligible.

Permalink

The man holds a hand to his chest and says "James Barret".

Permalink

"Officer Barret says 'Welcome to the building'," she translates. "He will lead you to a room for talking in."

Permalink

Officer Barret waits for the translation to finish, and then waves Ahmose past him. Behind the door is a small room with a long spiral staircase heading down, and a pair of shiny silver metallic doors. Once Ahmose is in the building, he lets the outer door close and walks over to push a button by the metallic doors.

Total: 216
Posts Per Page: