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Lavinia in Adastra
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Lavinia is sprawled on her bed fucking around on her phone before going to sleep. 

There's an ad that claims to isekai you if you stare at it for a few seconds. Lavinia is very sure that it's going to turn into an ad for an isekai-themed game or story or something when the timer runs out, but the premise is, in fact, amusing enough to make her look at it long enough to see the timer tick down to zero and see whatever it's going to actually advertise. 

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SURPRISE it's the formless void!

There's a guy in it. Or, like, the concept of a guy. An image of a human that definitely has a reasonable amount of detail until she tries to actually look at any of the details, at which point huh, what details, no details here. The words are very comprehensible, though.

"...And... got you! Sorry about that. The hero summoning spell works by grabbing people who wish they were somewhere else. Evidently that's why this kind of spell gets so many people about to be run over by chariots, or "Trunks" as I believe your people call it."

"Don't mind the formless vortex between worlds. You're currently transitioning between the world you've left behind, and our world. I'm not actually here with you, this is a preset message - we're pulling in dozens of people a day. We aren't only summoning people from your "Earth" either, the lure reaches into hundreds of world. The whole process is beyond our ability to direct or control, honestly. It will outlive me."

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"...Trucks, not trunks. Trunks are something else." 

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"Thank you."

"This message is itself semi-sapient, and can communicate to you through its analytical functions. I apologize for not responding to you smoothly, but weaving a semi-autonomous agent into an interface inside a self-perpetuating summoning spell embedded into the fabric of reality was non-trivial. I'm quite proud of it."

"Still, I apologize for the deceptive nature of the lure. The first component of the hero summoning spell is a wish to be elsewhere. But given a larger time-window, a vague wish could work, with the right preparations, and a minor glamour to help draw you in. And now you're here, and soon you will be in Adastra."

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"What is Adastra and why are you summoning people there?" Of all the times for her assumptions about when people were joking to be wrong...still, it's better than never being offered the proverbial magic wardrobe at all. 

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"Adastra is the planet to which you are being summoned. The Fourfold Apocalypse not only increased the lands we hold one hundred thousandfold, but has left us with less than a tenth of our old population."

"There are many benefits a Summoned Hero gets simply for being a Summoned Hero. You receive the Hero Icon - I've heard summoned heroes call it their 'Class' before, and it means you're included with the people of the highest class, dukes and kings, so I suppose that works."

"But while most people struggle to bond a single Icon, and few bound one as potent as The Hero, Summoned Heroes also naturally bond the Outsider Icon - a sub-classification of it known as the "Native Outsider." It's not as potent as The Hero icon, but pretty much the only Icon that's a peer to The Hero is The Demigod. The Outsider is a potent Icon, and a Native Outsider ignores the few downsides of that state."

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"I don't think that's what they mean by class. And if I'm right, does that mean you can 'level up' in it?" 

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"Within our world, people found ways to improve their State of Existence and Level of Existence by studying beings that naturally had a higher Level of Existence. Outsiders, Demigods, Dragons, these beings were naturally tied to fundamental Icons that underlie reality. By learning about these primordial Icons, the mortal races learned to forge artificial Icons and bind themselves to them."

"By 'filling' an icon with harvested Potential, it was possible to gain powers through that Icon. And once the Icon was completely filled, it could be 'completed' by flooding it with excess Potential until it 'breaks' and rebuilds itself, 'ascending' to the next stage. I've heard Summoned Heroes call these stages 'levels', but that's confusing. We call them 'Ascensions.' When you're finished templating, you'll be at the First Ascension, having bonded to your icons. When one Ascends, it will also improve that person's Level of Existence by one rank per Icon at the time of Ascension."

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Sweeeeeeeeeet. 

"How do I harvest potential?" She really hopes it doesn't involve mandatory murder, ignoring the ethical implications of goblin genocide is one thing when it's an actual video game but if she's going to actually live that RPG lifestyle then presumably the mobs will also be real people with hopes and dreams and a preference to not get shanked. 

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"Icons generate potential whenever they are True. A Warrior Icon generates Potential when that person acts like a warrior. That can be practicing martial skills or winning a fight, or something less direct like intimidating someone else into backing down. As a Hero, or Pinnacle, all great deeds and impressive accomplishments, be they in war or diplomacy, magic or art, are True to your nature and generate Potential."

"For most people, Potential developed through one form of endeavour can only be added to the associated Icon: someone who was both a Warrior and an Artificer would need to generate both Warrior Potential and Artificer Potential to Ascend. As an Outsider, all Potential you generate is you Potential, and can be added to any of your Icons: Outsider, Pinnacle, and your third Icon if you should choose to bind one."

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That is deeply cool. 

"What makes an Outsider icon True?"

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"The Outsider's defining characteristic is that they aren't part of any reality, but are their own self-contained reality. An Angel in Elysium isn't truly within Elysium, but is its own Angel-sized realm full of Angel, and their physical position is the dimensional nexus between their reality, and the reality of Elysium."

"Natural outsiders are born from the very substance of reality in planes that overlap themselves: a piece of the plane becomes so convoluted that it pinches its way free and becomes a separate entity. In your case, the Templating that shifts a Summoned Heroe from 'native of a non-magical universe' to 'native of a magical universe' gives them this self-contained nature, and so they become Outsiders. More specifically, they are Native Outsiders, outsiders whose 'inner rules' are those of a material plane. This is an advantage, because the Material can go anywhere. Anti-Outsider effects, banishment magic, wards, and more all fail when used against a Native Outsider."

"Outsiders gain Potential whenever they act according to their unique natures: that is, whenever they do something that comes naturally to them and which few other types of being would be inclined to do. Angels gain Potential through acts of justice or generosity, Devils through enslaving or corrupting other beings, and so on."

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Things she would do that most other people wouldn't. 

Well. 

This'll be fun. 

"Thank you, that's very good to know."

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"The Outsider is a potent Icon, and a Native Outsider ignores the few downsides of that state."

"Summoned heroes are able to naturally bind to a third Icon. The Analytical Spells will let you see what Icons you resonate with and let you finish that bonding process."

"Beyond having potent Icons, a Summoned Heroes' journey through the void means they'll have taken on some of the nature of that chaotic nothingness, letting them gain Exceptions, ways that the rules don't apply to them, or where they've redefined the rules in relations to themselves. You appear to have acquired the capacity for three Exceptions."

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"Does the number of exceptions vary between Summoned Heroes? How many is usual?"

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"This spell's data store was created when the latest form of summoning ritual was first developed. Previous versions typically provided Heroes with the capacity for two Exceptions."

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"--Is that because I'm the first one you've summoned, or is the data from this interaction going to be lost when I'm done being summoned?"

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"This spell's data store was created when the latest form of summoning ritual was first developed. It is unable to integrate data between castings."

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"...Are you conscious?" 

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"Consciousness, in the sense of the ability to form beliefs, exercise moral judgement, and experience preferences, requires a connection to all three of the Astral Deep, the Flow of Nature, and the Well of Glamour. Combining all three in a single spell at the level of sophistication required to support a conscious mind is widely considered theoretically impossible."

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"I don't care about those philosophical whatevers, I care if you have experiences and qualia."

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"This spell contains information derived from the experiences of the Mage who created it, but cannot have additional experiences. A spell capable of supporting conscious mind is widely considered theoretically impossible."

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Okay. Whew. That's a relief. 

"You're very articulate for an entity without the ability to exercise judgment. Do you have data on the outcomes of the previous round of Summoned Heroes, like, is it generally better to choose a third Icon based on the abilities it grants or the Potential it can harvest?"

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"The abilities of the Pinnacle and Native Outsider are great and potentially world-shaking. The common icons are less so, but their smallness means that they are more easily wielded, and will greatly shape the path you'll follow in the days ahead. The smaller abilities a common Icon grants can focus and limit the grander ability you have into something practical and usable. Summoned Heroes do not lack for opportunities to generate Potential; the primary purpose of the third Icon is to provide useful abilities and the opportunity to develop focused Aspects."

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Nod nod. This is exciting! She should think about what kind of practical abilities she would like. "Magic" is the obvious answer, but probably there are a lot of magic-related options and she's going to have more specific choices. 

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"The other way Icons display their power is through Aspects. These can appear to be superhuman or supernatural skills and abilities - ways for an Icon to reflect its nature onto the world around it through the person it is bound to. Some Aspects are broader and weaker, others narrower and more powerful."

"All Icons have a broad 'Aspect of Themselves', which gives a noticeable affinity for doing anything that Icon represents. For example, a Warrior will naturally display skill in violence, endure hardship, survive harsh circumstances, and intimidate others."

"Icons naturally have four other reflections, and they gain another reflection each Ascension - I've heard your people call them 'Skill Slots.' Most Icons freely develop abilities appropriate to the Icon within these slots."

"It's also worth noting that certain mystical experiences and mastery of various forces can further improve the Rank of one's Level of Existence. Most people will have achieved an extra improvement to their Level of Existence by their Fifth Ascension, but heroes have an easier time of it. Many achieve that before their first, and by their third may have managed it five or six times, depending on their Exceptions. These improvements affect the Lifescroll similarly to Ascensions, but do not produce slots for extra Aspects."

"Such outside sources of Potential can alternatively be used to develop Aspects outside of the purview of their Icons. This is useful in general, but especially for Outsiders because they only need a starting investment. A famous warrior once absorbed much of the Potential of a dragon he slew by bathing in its blood, and used this to develop an Aspect of Invincibility. That Aspect was deeply flawed though, because he had no native way of generating appropriate Potential to feed it. You would not have that problem."

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