Game Theory II - Tit for Tat

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Aleph, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. Aleph Solidarity

    Yay, new thread! Boy, it sure is roomy in here, isn't it?

    So, the formalities:

    Old thread goes here.

    Contents:
    Prologue
    Chapter One
    Chapter Two
    Chapter Three
    Chapter Four
    Chapter Five
    Chapter Six

    Infodumps:
    On dimensions and world-templates: 1 2
    On summons and familiars: 1 2 3
    On Alhazred, and the priest-kings of old: 1 2 3
    On magic lethality, and kinetic weapons: 1
    On Midchildan technology, and the TSAB: 1 2 3
    On Dimensional Space history, and magic systems: 1 2 3

    Also up on fanfic.net.

    And now, on with the thread!
  2. Aleph Solidarity

    ... and as promised, we'll start this off with the linguistical-magic infodump.

    Alhazredian was first. First, and foremost, and engendered all the rest. ES and I model it as Indo-European, the forebearer to most known modern languages. It was clumsy, clunky and badly put together, with no unifying structure or standardised basis for spells. Components of old spells were welded together to get new effects with no streamlining or optimisation, and the priest-kings developed their own from scratch, customising them and leaving no notes as to their methods. The first Alhazredian settlements are dated to about 8000BC by our calendar (which I'll use for convenience's sake), and they spread across their planet over about 1000 years or so. By about 5000BC they had advanced far enough to expand out into Dimensional Space, with a very advanced mathematical system and knowledge of sciences far beyond Earth history. They had already mastered the Familiar Uplift by that point, and that was a contributing factor to their progress, because the priest-savants could give up power to run as many familiars as they could. And then they spend a lot of time spreading out over dimensional space, terraforming, colonising and inhabiting.

    Society-wise... they weren't one, really. A disparate collection of priest-kings and priest-queens ruling over fiefdoms, their culture (such as it was) was a schizophrenic mixture of primitivism and hyperadvancement. They weren't quite at the level where they skipped the wheel because they invented the technomagical antigrav generator, but they certainly missed huge chunks of a modern functioning society - something that makes them fascinating to archeologists. They were primitive enough to use tribal markings as a relatively common way to denote their clans, while at the same time doing so by coding unnatural hair and eye colours, or facial markings, into the genome. They had no form of centralised authority, and how different priest-kings ruled their tribes varied wildly. The era spanned thousands of years, and wars between tribes sparked colonisations as they expanded outward, terraforming planets casually to get more land.

    And then everything changed when their homeworld dropped into Imaginary Space around 1700BC, shattering Alhazred's power and cutting the many colonies apart. That was the first Dark Ages, and they were Dark indeed. Some of the priest-kings held onto power, but Alhazred's back was broken, and one by one, they died. In their wake rose new empires, built from the soldiers that had served them, who had more efficient, tested spells. They were the ones who developed the idea of standardising the basic pattern of a spell - of every spell, so that no matter what you were casting, large elements of it were the same, and you could plug other bits in in a modular, generic way to get almost any effect. Casting circles had been born, and the first to do it was Belka, the first Belkan King crowning herself at swordpoint from a remnant Alhazredian priest-king in 983BC, by our reckoning. Literally, as a matter of fact, she took the man's crown and then cut his head off. Vivio's ancestor knew what she wanted from life, and she set out to get it. Her success can only be described as "exceptional".

    Language-wise, Ancient Belka is Germanic. Warlike and combative, the Ancient Belkans clung to a great deal of power by coopting Alhazredian tech. The cartridge system was developed, not to grant bursts of power to break an enemy's defences, but rather just to get the insanely high-demand devices of the priest kings to work at all. The triangle-cast Belkan system focused on high-powered, close-quarters anti-personnel combat, and they were the first to develop Armed Devices to take some of the calculation load off the caster. That alone gave them an edge over the priest-kings, and with the later development of Unison Devices and the transhuman augmentation of the Belkan Kings only solidified the victory. The custom had a reason - they were not as powerful as their predecessors in terms of raw reserves, and the physical nature of their Devices meant that even when drained of magic entirely, they still had deadly weapons, and could still very easily kill.

    Around the same time as Belka, the world of Galea either independantly developed or co-opted the concept of standardised magic systems and Devices. Their figure-eight casting circles supported a magic system that was less directly combat-oriented than Belkan, and which could be used to affect the world around them in various ways. Animated golems and environmental effects fell under their domain, and they took on several of the Alhazredian spells such as the Familiar uplift and the dimensional barrier - which Belka copied, true, but not in quite the same way. The Galean style of magic was not without teeth, however, as the Dark Kings and their Mariage proved with frightening force. Linguistically, Galean is the Latin to Belkan's Germanic, descended from the same root down another path.

    Belka and Galea, and the other powerful post-Alhazredian empires of that time (there was at least one, Praové, that fills the Balto-Slavic role, an ancestor of Russian analogues in the same way that German is linked to from Belka and the Romance languages parallel Galean-descended styles) lasted a long time. But no empire lasts forever, and their vying for power eventually ruptured the equilibrium. As the primary military power, Belka held the others in an uneasy stalemate, and when the Belkan homeworld was raked with fire by one of the wars between Belkan Kings - a Saint King, in fact, was the one who did it, around 1200AD - this state of affairs collapsed, and the Warring States era began. With the great empires shattered on each other, styles mixed and merged. A host of new styles emerged in the new era of chaos and warfare that would last for more than six hundred years.

    Kabupatenic, for example, is a Dutch-analogue that makes heavy use of energy weapons that were able to take a heavy beating or survive without maintainance - the Devices are the AK-47s of Devices, able to keep functioning even with massive damage - and around fighting someone who's a lot bigger, stronger and more magically powerful than you by using skill, deflections rather than blocks (which wastes less power), ambient power sources and submission moves aimed at weak areas. It was designed for weak, C-D rank mages to fight the far more powerful leftover Belkan nobles who tried to set up city-states and kingdoms. At a technique level, there's also a widespread use of psuedo-familiars. Magical automata, used as auxilary things rather than pure magical constructs.

    Myedoan, on the other hand, is French. Developed along a rather circuitous route from Galean, it took the environmental and non-combat elements and used them to make a construction style made for building things. A powerful Myedoan-user with a well-made Construction Device could build roads, houses - infrastructure. It saw a lot of use as wars and squabbles devestated areas with weapons of wide-scale destruction, as people got up and carried on, casting to repair the damage and mass-produce simple, necessary items like water purifiers and crop harvesting tools. Useless for combat, but invaluable once the fighting is over.

    A number of Neo-Belkan styles exist, German, similar or near-identical to what Subaru uses (I'm not going with the "they were developed from the Wolkenkritter" theory, because an entire style being developed and propagating through an entire society in ten years is stupid). They take elements of other styles to tone down the sheer offensive power of Ancient Belkan and include useful non-combat effects, but are still very much oriented around punching the crap out of things and breaking stuff. They see a lot of use on border worlds where the TSAB doesn't hold much sway, where petty warlords and fiefdoms are still the rule of thumb.

    Finally, though by no means only, Midchildan is English. Technically, it's a Belkan-derived "Germanic" style, but it's stolen huge amounts of Galean-descended "Romance" elements to come up with a catch-all system that's fairly good at everything, reasonably generic, and which offers a great deal of flexible support to most effects you can achieve with magic. While it lags behind neo-Belkan styles for sheer combat power and can't compare to Myedoan in churning out mass-production lines, it can make a passable attempt at both, and for this reason it's the sanctioned, official style of the TSAB, who need to be able to turn their hand to everything.

    There are other styles. Russian (descended from Praové), Spanish (another Galean-descent), Danish (another Germanic one)... the list goes on. The TSAB has documented hundreds of magic systems - 891, around the time of A's, and still increasing. The Warring States was a time of strife and struggle, but it was an explosion of magical ingenuity and development. Eventually, about 150 years before the present day - 1850ish - the last of the Saint Kings of Ancient Belka, Olivie Segbrecht, took the throne, despite the fact that she was not the heir apparent, after defeating her cousin (who history records as a singularly ambitious and violent person) in a duel.

    Olivie's reign was short, lasting barely 15 years before her death, but it was transformational. She singlehandedly and systemtically underminded the military supremacy of her own nation in furious wars against other power groups, deliberately wasting her power while strengthening the "civilian" infrastructure. The lineage of the Saint Kings was said to have a savant-like genius at warfare, yet Olivie's behaviour appeared irrational; later historians are sure that she had worked out that the rule of the Belkans was unstable, based around the Cradle and military force over unwilling and increasingly unhappy populations, and was acting deliberately to ensure that the Belkan hegonomy collapsed in a controlled manner - up to and including arranging her own death in a way that lost the legendary ship that so much of their power was based on.

    If that is true, it worked. She had broken the backs of the Saint Kings (and other such Belkan lineages), and her subtle work to reinforce civilian instituons and have it so that not all political power ran through the Cradle meant that there were institions in place which recovered. The Belkan Empire drifted apart; it did not truly collapse. Oh, there were wars, and there were conquerers, but it fell apart into clusters of allied worlds, with much less "reversion to the dark ages" compared to most collapses.

    And in 1941 (just six or seven decades before the events of Game Theory) a group of powerful mages set up the TSAB, which - while small at first - quickly expanded using the remnants of the collaboration and the backing of the Saint Church to regulate and administer Dimensional Space. They set up something akin to the Dimensional EU-NATO, and Dimensional Space began to return to a relative peace as they tried to bring the standards up somewhat from the levels they had degenerated to. This was when they adopted the New Calendar. They're still young, and they have nowhere near enough people or resources to fully control the territory they've claimed. But they're keeping the peace so far, and accelerating as fast as they can to reach the level of power they really need to do their job.

    And that rather neatly brings us to the current day. Where, on a little planet in a backwater of Dimensional Space that sat unnoticed and untouched while conflicts raged in the Dimensional Seas around it, a young native mage has just experienced a rather bad day.
  3. RazorSmile ROU Once A Knife Missile

    Every bit as intellectually pleasing as I'd hoped. That said:

    Not sure if correct.
  4. Jiven Hmmm, black tea~~ My lifeblood.

    I like reading some good world-building. Now, we need the next chapter !
  5. Aleph Solidarity

    It took them until 5000BC to get into Dimensional Space, and until 1700 BC to fall. They were around for a while. And then you had an 700-year Dark Age of chaos and factions scrambling for power and ganking the scattered priest-kings with newer, more efficient magic before the first of the Belkan Kings crowned herself at the point of a sword.
  6. Nice infodump. Worldbuilding by you (and ES) is always great to read.

    Just one question: So TSAB was founded around 0000 MC (midchildan calendar)? Not -0075 MC as some sources have it? I always thought the calendar change was posterior to TSAB, a sort of "now we've managed to calm down the big issues we were created to solve (special thanks to these 3 legendary admirals) so here! brand new calendar to celebrate and put everyone on the same reference once and for all".

    Then again, it's up to you really.
  7. Angelform Celestia’s messenger

    By Luna’s starlight mane when you do world building you do not mess about.

    Midchildan as English? Wonder if they get accused of mugging other styles for spare formula.

    Would be nice to see some of the other systems, even just in passing. The ‘all familiars, all the time’ method certainly sounds interesting. Nothing quite like a good set of minions :D
    Winged One likes this.
  8. Aleph Solidarity

    Olivie bit and the birth of the TSAB have been edited at ES's advice.

    We've had most of this for months. It was just a matter of getting it all down. Which took a while, I'll grant you.

    I did note that Mid-style steals quite a lot of its stuff from various Galean-descent systems, even though it's technically Germanic. :drevil:

    *smirk* Well... I didn't make them just so that they could be pretty in the backstory, let's say that much.

    :D
    Winged One likes this.
  9. EarthScorpion Fell on His Sword

    One thing that has to be noted is that the Dimensional Quakes that ended the Alhazredian era were titanic. Now, I will remind you of the effect that a rather small one on Earth had on the magically weak population of Earth.

    To be blunt, Priest-Kings and Priest-Savants for dimensions around dropped dead the moment Alhazred unmade itself. Which made the post-collapse chaos even worse, because the power vacuum was near total.

    A lot of the post-Alhazred, late-era "Priest-Kings" wouldn't have been fit to be scribes at their height, because the power of the Priest-Kings was that they were nigh-immortal, boosted-to-hell mages with massive amounts of personal infrastructure and power and hoarded their secrets. The dimensional quakes went through their ranks like a scythe.

    And that first Sankt-Kaiser killed one of the last Ancients left, 800 years surviving past the end of his world, and her men and women set up their camp fires in the ruins of his city, and they pillaged the devices (small d) he made, and she took his crown and declared herself Saint and King. Yes, to call one's self "Saint-King" was a deliberate declaration of supremacy over the old order by this neo-feudal barbarian warlord as she killed one of the last true Priest Kings.
  10. . . . The Belkans were huns? Awesome.
    Winged One likes this.
  11. Aleph Solidarity

    Emphasising that first point of ES's, the TSAB have a rough idea of the region Alhazred was probably located in because there are still surviving scars on Dimensional Space from the quakes that ripped it out of the fabric of space-time. Using ocean storms as an analogy, the one on Earth last chapter rippled the seas a bit and produced severe turbulance for miles around. By contrast, the ones that destroyed Alhazred left visible scars on the geology of the nearby regions that have lasted several thousand years. And sunk an entire island beneath the waves, possibly all the way to the seabed. You can actually track it by how other worlds were scattered by the quake - which was another problem. All the old maps of Dimensional Space? Were suddenly invalidated, and worthless. Which meant that anyone trying a Dimensional teleport using the coordinates therein...
  12. Shockz IT'S SINON TIME

    Hm. Since the language-analogies you're using for the magic systems generally line up with the languages spoken in the actual show...one wonders how a bunch of civil engineers accidentally stumbled into creating one of the most powerful weapons in existence.
  13. EarthScorpion Fell on His Sword

    The thing about Myedoan style?

    It's all about power flow. And energy transfer. And precise, repeated operations. Remember, it's the Myedoan aspects of Mid-style which produced things like Starlight Breaker and Divine Buster from the components of Belkan Style. Oh, sure, the Arc-en-ceil isn't rapid-firing. It has a lengthy charge time, and requires large scale infrastructure to handle its energy draw and computational load.

    ... and then you put it all together, mount it on a ship, and you get something which drops a targeted sphere 100km radius into imaginary space and causes a small localised dimensional quake as reality seals after it.
    Winged One likes this.
  14. Dragontrapper Apathetic Worldbuilder

    I like your approach to world building - I'll probably be borrowing it, if not stealing sections whole-sale, for my own world-building project. (Original Fiction Steampunk/magitech setting - very much off-topic)

    Needless to say, I am very impressed by your world-building. Do you develop all of this Systematically or Organically? I'd be interested in understanding your creative process.
  15. DB_Explorer An advocate of faithful contracts.


    Let me guess... your suddenly FAR to close to the sun... like in it.
  16. Andmeuths Sporadic Author

    That's an impressive piece of world-building - except for a few nit-picks:

    I thought that canonically, the TSAB is 150 years old? Or perhaps, the TSAB is the formalization of an even looser Predecessor polity during the time of the Brains....

    Another thing to consider: one of the big differences the TSAB has with NATO and EU is likely the fact that they share a common Labor and goods Market, Education system Military-Judiciary, Fiscal Policy and Central Bank. To reduce them to the level of centralization of the EU, you'd need to remove the common Military and Fiscal Policy aspect.

    Unless of course, we have a two-track TSAB. The Administrated Worlds share all these five elements of centralization, while Unadministrated Worlds are affiliated to the TSAB by sharing some of these elements, most commonly a shared Military-Judiciary....

    Unless of course, the TSAB is riddled with internal tarrifs, member worlds blocking or restricting immigration, multiple different currencies etc.....which I don't think you are going for that, are'nt you?

    Based on your back-story, I got the impression that the Mid style is popular because it's a very basic style that allows a mage to respec in much of the 800 styles he or she possess an affinity to....
  17. Well, that happened to me, but the policeman wasn't a anal about it so I talked my way out of it, but I suppose it could go either way if you're swarthy and the policeman is an ass.
  18. Mid does not 'borrow' spells from other systems. It has on occasion chased other Magic Schools down dark alley-ways, clubbed them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new spell formulas. :D

    (I believe this is the quote you are thinking of?)
  19. On the genre, I would say the Hard/Soft classification appears to cover more how well the author has defined his world. A well defined world, with rules the author follows rigorously is Hard. A world where the author has fuzzy rules, and/or violates them/creates new rules as needed for his plot. That is soft.

    As for the Science Fiction vs Fantasy, well just because you have "magic" does not make it fantasy. I think the key here is how well the fictional world understands what it has. If the magic is well characterized, analzyed, manipulable and controlled, then its really just another form of science. Just not directly derived from one of the real sciences here on Earth.

    So in fact, I think you could are that Nanoha is Science Fiction. They seem to understand their spells at least as well as the UFP understands its Warp Drive. And at least in Game Theory's case a definite Hard version.
  20. Dragontrapper Apathetic Worldbuilder

    I am so very tempted to make that my sig.
  21. ShaperV Writer

    Interesting worldbuilding. Although it does beg the question: why exactly were the ancient priest-kings so powerful compared to modern mages? If magical technology has evolved so much over the millennia you'd normally expect comparing the TSAB to Alhazred to be like comparing the RL modern world to the stone age civilizations of 1,000 BC.

    Perhaps humans originally had much stronger magical abilities, but the dimensional quakes killed all the talented mages? Or maybe the devices they built grow stronger with time, so it took a few thousand years to build up an inventory of artifacts like the Jewel Seeds? At any rate, there's definitely a mystery there...
  22. Maybe it works like a slightly modified version of the Nasuverse explanation of magic. There are more mages now than their were back then, and the same amount of magic is split among more mages, so modern mages are weaker than ancient mages, even with their newfangled Devices. If a modern mage and ancient mage both fought, and each had the same amount of magical power, the modern mage would win because he can manage his magic far more effectively than the ancient mage. Problem is, the ancient mage has so much more power to draw from, the advantages of modern spellcasting are rendered largely irrelevant.

    Haven't played FSN for a while, but didn't Rin block one of Caster's spells, taunting the Servant that while she has more power, Caster's spells are outdated compared to the modern stuff. Of course, Caster had ridiculous amounts of Prana to draw on, so it was a short-lived victory, but Rin's point still stands.
  23. Dragontrapper Apathetic Worldbuilder

    Well, consider how long they had been working with magic before the collapse vs. Belka and the TSAB. They just had more time to develop there systems. As Aleph's Sig says, this is a Post-post-post apocalypse setting.

    Plus, as has been mentioned, Caro could take out a Alhazred Mage simply because they took so long to cast (IIRC). Also, look at the weapons like the Arc-en-ciel. TSAB tech can be MASSIVELY powerful. Its just not the same system as Alhazred's.

    Edit:

    I've Played FSN and read a lot of Nasuverse stuff, and I don't recall ever coming across that explanation - in fact, the opposite is true. Caster's stuff was STRONGER then modern stuff because of when her spells were from (the Age of Gods). Part of the decline in Magecraft is due to technology getting to the point it could match the abilities of magic, and more efficiently. She did block one of Caster's spells, but that was thank to one of her massively magic-charged jewels.
  24. Why exactly were the Alhazredian so much more powerful? I mean, in the show they seem to a rather generic precursor race who are generic more advanced, but you aren't going for it here. They used a magic system that, while having individual moments of genius, was vastly inferior to what came later.

    Why did they have the kind of power that later mages couldn't even genetically engineer themselves to have.
  25. NHO Misplaced Mechmind

    What is Chinese (with all of it's dialects) of magical styles?

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