The Letters Page: Episode 111
Let's get MAGICAL!
Run Time: 1:37:44
Let's answer a lot of questions about the how, what, and why of magic! And more!
As of this posting, the next episode (all about Void Guard) has already been recorded due to this weeks convention, but feel free to send in questions for the other episodes for the month of June!
Also, if you're at UK Games Expo this week, come by the Greater Than Games booth and say hi - Christopher will be there talking about all manner of games, though Adam is holding down the GTG fort in St. Louis and celebrating the tail end of his birth-month.
As always, you can support The Letters Page via our Patreon. Thanks for listening!
- Considering all of the various types of magic that have been specified, but also other things that seem to do similar things that aren’t magic (e.g. Visionary’s powers, the Host, Singular Entity stuff, etc.), what exactly is the definition of “magic”? What makes a power source magical or not? Ok, so Visionary’s powers are psychic, which they’re defining as being scientific (comic book science, but still science). There’s some understandable something that she’s doing with her brain that does the things that she does. Adam takes a stab at it with: “Magic is calling on a force outside of yourself.” They would qualify the Host as being magic. When Singular Entities are doing stuff themselves they would tend to categorize that power as Cosmic. Captain Cosmic is likewise Cosmic since although his power is derived from an outside Cosmic source, it’s now within him (Adam compares it to his own body being powered by the food he eats - it started out external to him, but now it’s just part of him). Unity throws a wrench in this since what she’s doing is magical, but it’s not like she’s aware of that or calling on some outside power… I guess it’s best to just recognize that there’s no real easy, cut-and-dried answer to this question. It’s worth remembering stuff they’d said in episodes dealing with science or Tachyon in particular: magic defies our ability to quantify and apply the replicability of the scientific method to it and therefore is hard to get a good handle on in terms of really understanding it rather than just feeling it. This kind of opposition to science is what makes categorizing it difficult. Keep this in mind throughout this episode as things are likely to remain vague or contradictory. Adam also goes back to the “a lot of it is emotion-based” feeling part and they try to think of counterexamples - Void Magic isn’t emotional, but the way that you connect to the Void is. “Magic is more Art than Science.”
- Is the Void in some form or another involved with all magic in the Multiverse (there was some comment in the Cosmic Contest episode that Argent Adept “wields the stuff magic is made of”)? The Void isn’t the source of all magic, but it is pure magic itself (“there is nothing to the Void that isn’t magic”) and that’s what that statement about AA is getting at - that he’s working with a pure essence of magic (not the pure essence of magic).
- Most time travel in the Multiverse seems to be heavily based on technology (citing Chrono-Ranger, La Comodora, and Omnitron-X), are there ever instances of magic being responsible for time manipulation/time travel shenanigans? You’re right that most times when they talk about time travel stories they’re very Time Machine-y which is on the technological end of the spectrum, but there is a big chunk of the timey-wimey nonsense that isn’t technological, but Cosmic in origin - the Time Cataclysm/Shattering of the Timelines is due to OblivAeon’s actions and Singular Entities, being outside time, can do all sorts of stuff to mess with time in that way. The Block is a weird edge case as well considering its ability to connect to various other realities/times (although people physically located at the Block still experience time linearly), but it’s still a Cosmic thing rather than Magic. There was a NightMist story in the ’70s where they had her mess with time slightly with a spell, but the effects of her doing so were catastrophic to the point where it’s pretty well established that “you don’t mess with time with magic” is something of a Law of Magic that she abides by and passes on to the Harpy. That being said, there is somebody who deals with it all the time: Argent Adept! His magical manipulation is accomplished through the medium of music and one of the first things you learn about music is the importance of time. Many of AA’s magic effects are, in fact, time-based. In big team-up stories he’s often just “doing magic”, but in his solo book we often get narration/exposition about him playing something faster/slower/backwards/whatever to do some form of time manipulation. So with the two people who probably do the most magic in all of Sentinel Comics we have one who speaks aghast of how one should never mess with time with magic and another who just kind of messes with it incidentally all the time.
- Alchemy is the fusion of science and magic, Scholar spends a lot of time mentoring people, Unity unknowingly uses magical means to create technological marvels, so would Scholar be able to quickly recognize and point out to Unity what exactly it is that she’s doing? Was there a time when he attempted to point it out and/or teach her more about alchemy? Well, while Scholar interacts with pretty much everybody, he and Unity don’t really spend much time together. He definitely understands what her power comes from, but she’s doing fine and has friends/mentors so he’s not going to roll in and “Well, actually…” her because it wouldn’t make a lot of difference for her to understand what her power is at a deeper level. He’s more interested in mentoring the mentorless and she’s already got plenty. Unity as a pupil of the Scholar could make for an interesting Disparation story, though.
- In Harpy’s deck we have a quote with Scholar talking about Huginn and Muninn, was he around/involved with their transition to their forms on that card? No, that was Harpy herself. Back as the Matriarch, she just picked these two birds to be her cohorts, linking them to her magical abilities, and it’s just the long stretch of time of them existing in that state that is was transforms them. They look like that by the time she even takes up the Harpy moniker. They’re getting close to being familiars.
- What does the Scholar look like when he’s engaged in battle? With Mortal Form to Energy does he have to physically pass through his opponent or can it be a ranged attack? Does he generally get up close and personal with the opposition or hang back and coach/advise the other heroes? He does a little of all of that (hanging back vs. getting right up in the baddies’ faces, etc. - just look at the varied things we see him doing in the card art). He’s kind of all over the place and his deck is so varied because his stories are also varied (and the writers in the ’70s and ’80s didn’t just dismiss/retcon the stuff he’d been up to since the Golden Age to make him fit more modern stories, so they came up with interesting reasons for him to be the way he is). Adam brings up a apt proverb: It’s better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.
- Naturalist’s Primal Magic that transforms him makes his animal forms a little extra oomph - it’s easy to see how the crocodile might have larger teeth and claws and the rhinoceros thicker hide, but how does this apply to the gazelle? Is it just more inherently “magical” and is why it seems to activate the more utilitarian abilities on his cards? You’re right on there: the croc and rhino are there for fighting (in offensive and defensive postures) and are bigger and scarier whereas the gazelle is where he wants to be to do magic stuff. In his human form he’s not really doing magic, but the gazelle seems to be tied to the natural world more than his other forms. The gazelle is mutable, though. It’s antlers/coloration/other physical details will shift and change rather than being “big scary crocodile” all the time. It’s almost a “forest spirit” kind of thing.
- How difficult is it for someone to learn to wield magic? Is Pinion training students at Freedom Academy? How dangerous is it for trainees without mentors? Pinion isn’t at the teaching phase yet (and Dark Watch isn’t really doing stuff at the Academy - being based in Rook City instead of Megalopolis, although they might swing by occasionally). Magical teachers are very difficult to come by - many practitioners are aware of how dangerous it is and aren’t going out of their way to make more people into magicians. A magical hero interested in helping to train up the next generation of heroes is more likely to warn all of them away from trying magic in the first place. On top of that, if you’ve got a magic pupil who winds up going bad that’s often much worse than if they just had super strength or something. That being said, there are a number of people out there willing to train you as your master, but they also suggest that you maybe should steer clear of anybody claiming to be a magical “master” in the first place (as a recent example, we heard a few weeks ago that Anthony Drake is out there looking for more Virtuosos, but the #1 job requirement is that you be willing to kill yourself for the cause - not the most upbeat recruitment process). If they were making a magical “pupil” type character for RPG purposes, they’d suggest having the backstory be more along the lines of having been trained by somebody nefarious that you then broke away from or that you just found a magical tome or something and you tried stuff out and now that the cat’s out of the bag on the whole “I do magic” thing you’re trying to deal with that and put your life back together (this latter sort of fits the NightMist/Harpy dynamic - Harpy was already doing magical stuff that she just stumbled into and didn’t know how to handle it and NightMist stepped in to help her get control). It’s hard to learn (plus you have to have at least some magical attunement to begin with) and is a lifetime discipline, but you can’t pull a Prospero and give up magic once you’ve unlocked it.
- A lot of comic book magicians have some sort of incantation they have to do (like saying things backwards or calling upon the [adjective [noun] of [person/entity]]) - how common is this sort of thing with magicians in Sentinel Comics? NightMist (and therefore Harpy/Pinion) does some spells that require incantations, but more than backwards speech or calling upon outside beings it’s more likely to be in some magical language that we can’t understand at all (and she uses several of these languages). You can sort of think about Argent Adept as doing incantations, but in the form of music rather than speech. So those two are probably the most common varieties we see in Sentinel Comics, but that’s not to say that they’re the only ones or even that magic requires incantations at all. Many forms of magic dont’ - there’s witchcraft type things with a bunch of herbs or other ingredients gathered (and there could be rhyming incantations there in English, but that’s more of a mnemonic device to remember what goes in).
- You’ve said that Void Magic and Discordian Magic “don’t mix”, but given the work that the Crimson Conductor was doing do Blood Magic and Void Magic work together better? Adam: “Bruh, no.” It’s not that Void and Discordian Magics don’t mix well, it’s just a very bad idea to mix them and that goes for pretty much everything. Once you’ve got access to both kinds of magic and start combining them they go together just fine, but the description of what’s going on just kind of has “resulting cataclysms” thrown in there casually to give you a sense of what scale we’re talking about. What’s almost impossible to manage is to combine them to some positive end without making mistakes that run out of control quickly. Just don’t combine magics.
- Could somebody trained to use Blood Magic take up Vogel’s baton to access Void Magic since it’s already been set up (either with or without being a potential Virtuoso)? No, a Blood Magician couldn’t just up and start doing Void stuff with the baton. It could be successfully used as an aid in doing Blood Magic, but unless something had been done to specifically imprint some Void effect onto the baton ahead of time they wouldn’t be able to access that end of things. Similarly a Void magician of some other variety could use it as a similar amplifier for Void Magic without accessing the Blood Magic stuff. In either case, the presence of the other type would result in some twisting/corrupting effect as well. A potential Virtuoso would probably get magically scarred as the baton tries to play into the Virtuoso connection [like what happened with Anthony and the Bell] while this twisting is going on which could burn out their magical potential entirely.
- We’ve seen Blood Magic animate dead bodies (or an amalgamation of bodies in the case of the Rotting God GloomWeaver), but could it be used to animate naturally inanimate objects? How about something that’s tied into blood in some way like an iron maiden or an executioner’s axe? Not really, the blood is rather important. You could kind of do a work-around by covering the object in blood, using magic to affix it to the object, then animating the blood which just takes the object along for the ride, but that’s a bit contrived and it wouldn’t take for very long (dried blood has lost the energy that’s being used - that’s why the Court of Blood keeps things flowing all the time, which is also tied into the idea of the movement of blood being significant, it’s meant to flow and if it’s not is it even blood anymore?).
- What sort of magic is being used when a hero uses the Atlantean Conduit? They waffle a bit here. Christopher starts out relating it more to Cosmic stuff, which isn’t right. Adam tries to use the category of “Arcane Magic”, but that’s basically just calling it “Magic Magic”. They land on the qualifier of “Ancient Magic” - this is some old and forgotten form of magic that the Atlanteans had access to but which doesn’t really fit into the general categories that are known about now. Atlantean Magic is something of an ancestor of the modern versions and nobody alive now has the knowledge of how to make an item like the Conduit anymore (though there are people alive with connections to that type of power, intriguingly).
- You’ve said that removing the various relics from Atlantis would be a bad idea - can you explain why that is? That’s a story for another time, sorry.
- We know that the Spear of Longinus that Idolater wielded was a fake, but is there a real one out there? Are other relics from history all objects inhabited by Host spirits? Could they be empowered by other means if they’re attributed to divine origins (say, could Ascalon, the lance of Saint George, have some kind of dragon-slaying enchantment)? It is not known whether there’s a “real” Spear of Longinus. Most “relics” that various people have attributed power to don’t actually do anything. Some of them do, which can be from any number of power sources (Host, Cosmic stuff, other kinds of magic, etc.). It’s not clear cut like all Christian relics are [X] and all Egyptian relics are [Y]. Stories of relics get started by either the relic having power or by the person having a power and just having the “relic” on them when they demonstrate it.
- How many masters of the various kinds of magic are there in the post-OblivAeon world (we know about Harpy/Pinion, The Master, Argent Adept, and Zhu Long - but who else)? How about cults other than the one of Gloom? They wouldn’t call Pinion a “master” of anything - she’s still somewhat intermediate at this point. AA and Zhu Long definitely count. The Master is messed up and not really around as you might think right now (see the NightMist and GloomWeaver episodes for what scant details we have at the moment). Cult of Gloom dabbles and nobody in there is a master at this point. There are a bunch of cults (hell, the Disciples of Zhu Long kind of count on that end) as just about any powerful magical entity in or out of reality has others who worship it. There are a number of other intermediate people like the Vandals (well, Tear doesn’t do much in the way of spells and is just a magical creature now). The Seer is around somewhere, as is Count Barzakh [unclear from their mentioning of those two if they fall in the “master” category or not]. Biomancer is an ancient master of Alchemy, so there’s magic wrapped up in that whole thing (he’s not ancient enough for the Atlantean stuff to be something he knows, though). They’re doing an RPG book with adventures that deal with magic stuff and then they hope to eventually do a whole sourcebook that gets into more detail on these things, so look for more details there when they happen. [I would assume that Blood Countess Bathory probably counts as a master of Blood Magic with Lifeline maybe being in that intermediate level.]
- What kinds of magics have Zhu Long mastered? His magic is kind of hard to define. What he’s doing is closer to that Ancient Magic than what just about anyone else is doing. While the Oni masks and other stuff he’s doing with life and death would generally imply Blood Magic, that’s not really what’s going on there. The Oni and other things also deal with transformation/transmutation, but he’s also not doing Alchemy either. [Being closer to the Atlantean kind of things seems to mean that he gets more bleedover across the “categories” that we’re familiar with.]
- Regarding “magical creatures” we know about vampires, werewolves, gorgons, etc., but what about Fairies? Are the “Fair Folk” a thing in Sentinel Comics? Are they as dangerous and do they have vulnerability to things like iron (or even specific types of iron) like they do in the tales? Are they ruled by beings we would recognize like Oberon and Titania? They are around, but they’re also not because they learned dozens of centuries ago that humanity isn’t to be trusted - as humanity learned about them they started hunting them down (for their magic power, because they were pests, etc.). So they’re just sealed away/laying low and content for humanity to believe that they’re only stories. A few stories involved magical heroes dealing with the Fae court (Scholar and AA are called out) and having to do a thing and “never returning” (and if they go back to the location of the court it’s not there anymore). You can’t find them but they can find you. And it’s not like they’re all good or evil or tricksters any more than you can say all humans are good or evil or tricksters. They’re just different from humans, so their motivations might be inscrutable other than staying out of sight. Stories portray them as dangerous since they’re likely to just kill anybody who actually comes across them and they want to ensure that folklore surrounding them is of the “don’t go looking for/messing with them” variety.
- Is all Discordian Magic chaotic and as hard to control as the name implies or is it just down to being derived from the Realm of Discord? Do Discordian mages have their spells go awry in unexpected ways? Does the Cult of Gloom work exclusively in this type? It is chaotic, unpredictable, difficult to wield, and capricious. It’s purpose is to create a chaotic effect. It also happens to be pulled from the RoD. Such mages are chaos mages - by choosing it as your medium you’re leaning into that (they also tend not to live long enough to become elderly). The Cult of Gloom primarily works with it because that’s where their dread lord resides, but sometimes they’ll dabble in others as necessary (the whole Skinwalker plot being a combination Discordian/Blood Magic thing). Whatever opens the door they’re into.
- Do Elementals exist (beings like Calypso, the Guardian Spirits at the Nexus of the Void, and Magmarians all seem like they might kind of fit, but is there a “species” consisting of consciousnesses inhabiting an element)? Could one summon such a being or would we instead be looking more like taking some elemental substance and instilling it with a will? Would it be possible to use Void Magic to create guardian spirits? The Guardian Spirits at the Nexus are probably the closest to what you’re talking about and they are created by Void Magic rather than being a “naturally”-occurring phenomenon (and a Void Magic user could probably make more such beings, but it would be difficult). You could create them in other ways (Ancient Magic certainly could, Natural Magic probably could, Nature Magic maybe - but this would be something like creating a golem of some sort). There isn’t a naturally-occurring “species” of them somewhere. Calypso isn’t an Elemental, she’s just a person who got water powers. The Magmarians depend on exactly how you would define “Elemental” - they’re people made out of lava/magma; does that make them a lava/magma Elemental? If so then maybe Calypso counts after she gets her powers and becomes a person made of water, but Christopher and Adam don’t think of them as being Elementals, at least.
- How well-known is the existence of magic in the Sentinel Comics universe (considering all of the heroes and villains doing magic all over the place)? Do people attempt to learn magic after seeing/hearing about it? People definitely do try to learn it (I mean, people here in the real world try to learn how to do magic and there’s certainly more proof of magic’s reality in the Sentinel Comics universe). That doesn’t mean it’s more accessible/acceptable a pastime than in the real world, but they’re still out there.
- Is there/can there be a full list of magical disciplines? In the Core Rulebook there won’t be, but they want to try to lay out and define more of them in a supplementary book, but even then it won’t be designed to be a definitive/comprehensive list (no such exhaustive list is possible). In the core rules there will be a few different ways to build a “magic” character (as in a few options that give rise to great complexity to build whatever character you want), but the later book should give you more specifics to work from.
- If you could pick a “school” of magic as defined by, say, D&D which one would each of you be? Adam would like to fancy himself a Necromancer, but recognizes that he’s more likely to be an Illusionist (Christopher chimes in that he could see him as something like a Warlock Illusionist). Christopher would be a charm-based Sorcerer. Paul would be the Wizard of the group.
- From Void Magic coming from the Void and Discordian Magic coming from the Realm of Discord, is Natural Magic coming from the main dimension of existence? Do all magic types have their power drawn from some dimension like this? First, there’s the unfortunate similarity between two distinct things - Nature Magic is drawn from nature, and Natural Magic which is the most direct descendant from Ancient Magic and is tied more to the natural order and construction of reality. So in that way, Natural Magic is the power from this “realm” yes. Like was said up top in trying to define magic, it’s based on drawing power from something external to yourself and that thing is just a noun. It could be a person/being (say GloomWeaver), an object, or even a place like with the Void and whatnot.
- Does that mean that other “realms” could provide different categories of magic altogether? Does Myriad’s “demon bug dimension” count and could somebody do Bug Magic by pulling power from there? Myriad isn’t good at magic, but the “magical” stuff he does is do to the power of that place. It’s worth noting that when they say “demon” they’re not necessarily meaning it in the Biblical sense - it’s more just “malicious extra-planer entities” (so stuff from the Void or the RoD could also be referred to as “demons”) and there are a lot of dimensions we haven’t seen.
- Could somebody draw power from Ur-Space in this way? Yeah, but “Ur Magic” would probably be better labeled as being just Cosmic.
- Is Unity an Alchemist? Is she doing a combination of science and magic or is she just using magic to do science things? Would Technomancy be a sub-category of Alchemy? You got it in there - it’s not Alchemy because she’s not combining the two things, just using one to do the other. Like, using some levitation magic to perform all of the actions necessary to bake a cake (mixing the batter, etc.) that doesn’t mean it’s a magical cake in the end.
- Magic is often used in stories (and comics are no exception) to get by on the “it’s magic, we don’t have to explain it” excuse for handwaving details - does Sentinel Comics have any established “rules” for how magic is used? Because there are so many different types of magic it’s hard to give a set of hard-and-fast rules, but the various magic users all have limitations that are pretty well established (like how NightMist won’t mess with time, Blood Magic has to do stuff with blood, etc.). There’s a lot of leeway in what you can get away with, but it’s very clear that magic isn’t all-powerful. The most general rule is that there’s no such thing as a free lunch - magic has a cost and it’s generally an unequal exchange (or if it is equal, it’s in such a way that it’s not obvious how it is).
- You’ve said that while magic is expressed differently it’s all the same “force” so could NightMist study up and do the sorts of things that Zhu Long or a Blood Magician does? They objected partway through the question, but they think they get what you mean. It’s not that all magic is the same force that is arrived at in different methods. The various categories of magic are each their own things, but the type of magic generally doesn’t restrict what kinds of stuff you do with it (although some things are easier with one kind vs. another). It’s not like in D&D where there are distinct “schools” of magic that a given result is dependent on. Like, if you wanted to move a rock from A to B they could all accomplish it, but the ways in which they’d do so would vary wildly (like, Blood Magic would likely be more difficult in that you’d have to either create a wave of blood to physically move the rock or use Blood Magic to control some living thing to just pick it up and move it).
- How much bleed over is there between the types on what they can do/what limitations are there on the various kinds? Void Magic’s big limitation is that virtually nobody can use it to begin with (it just so happens that one of our main characters is one of the few who can). Blood Magic requires your own/somebody else’s blood (and even if using someone else’s you’re going to be corrupting your own in some way in the process). Discordian Magic is “all cost” in terms of its sheer unpredictability (and all magic is unpredictable, which tells you how bad this stuff is - Virtuosos are probably the “most ordered” magic users in the setting down to their use of music as their means of control). Natural Magic is the main part of the magic end of Scholar’s Alchemy due to his connection with ley lines. So they’ve all got their own limitations and different practitioners are going to go about accessing things in different ways as best they can.
- Any characters who take the Rules of Magic and just throw them out the window (say Fanatic and Apostate)? Not really. Even those two are limited by the source of their power. Apostate is in better control since he knows what that power is in the first place. Fanatic’s leaning heavily on her faith, which is finite - it’s not the same as “wishing”, she couldn’t just choose to believe “OblivAeon doesn’t exist” to get rid of him, she has to truly believe things for her power to work to make it happen (and it’s easier for her to believe stuff about herself in this way than anything else).
- How does “enchanting” objects work (we know that NightMist enchants a number of things and Matriarch’s backstory involves Ignazio Gallo)? Any other interesting stories about Gallo? Enchanting is almost entirely the realm of Natural Magic (which is what Gallo uses). Because Relics are generally powered by pulling on the power of this realm, that makes sense. You could make relics pulling from other things - Vogels baton being Void/Blood rather than Natural, the other Virtuoso instruments are Void relics if not Relics for SotM purposes but they’re attuned rather than enchanted, some Court of Blood stuff has Blood Magic enchantment, Absolution functions as an enchanted sword but it’s more just a result of how Fanatic’s Host stuff works than an actual enchantment. The Egyptian God relics are not accounted for here, which gets at something they’ve been dancing around for forever now:
- What actually powers Ra and the other Egyptian pantheon characters? There was a realm (like Myriad’s bug dimension or the RoD) with a bunch of these very powerful beings inhabiting it. There was a war fought there that resulted in a cataclysm that destroyed that place and everything in it. All of the Egyptian “gods” (and other parts of their mythology) in the world are refugees from this plane that had managed to escape here and used their great powers to set themselves up to rule the place. When they eventually died, the great native power that they had would go into these relics which preserved their power and gives them a sort of immortality. Their home realm didn’t cease to exist, it’s just now “a never-ending hellscape of torment and destruction”. You don’t want to go there. That’s actually the place that Anubis guards the gate to - we call it the Underworld, but it’s the carcass and burial ground of an entire plane of existence and is now only home to monsters. Nothing has ever really drawn power from there other than the Tomb of Anubis itself and the fact that the Relics are powered by what’s left of beings originally from what preceded it.
- If Void is like jelly, what’s Blood Magic like? Black pudding.
- In the metaphysics of Sentinel Comics, what’s the difference between something’s essence and it’s soul (you’ve used both terms)? Christopher initially says that the Venn diagram of “Essence”, “Spirit”, and “Soul” might not be a perfect circle, but it’s pretty close to being one. There’s just a lot of baggage inherent in parts of talking about this - “Soul” tends to imply that your personhood and consciousness is somehow tied up with it where “Essence” doesn’t (being more about your animus). So Adam counters that the diagram might have “Soul” and “Essence” not overlapping at all, but “Soul” intersecting both and Christopher can get behind it. The main thing is that all three terms are about “you, but not your physical form” even if they’re talking about slightly different aspects of that. In theory, you could remove somebody’s soul without rendering the body inanimate (the Essence keeps it functioning). Ok we’ve got a working difference here: the soul is the identity (an “ethereal fingerprint”) while the essence is the spark of life - the little girl who became Fanatic retained her initial essence once she regained life, but the soul departed and was replaced by the Host spirit. A standard comic book problem is cropping up here where we are dealing with metaphysical things and trying to explain the inexplicable.
- Why do different Virtuoso instruments activate different effects? Does it come down to how practiced their initial owners were? It’s more down to how Argent Adept uses them. They mentioned earlier about him using different tempos to affect time, so it would make sense for a rhythm instrument to be involved with that. That’s a bit more obvious a connection between form and function, but it’s also why a horn and a stringed instrument do different things as well - the different types of music do different magical things. On top of that, the individual has a major impact as well - Billy Joel and Elton John both play the piano, but they’re very different musicians and this would carry over to different Virtuosos getting different effects from the instruments.
- What does Apostate doe to turn people into demons? It’s the externalized version of Fanatic’s power. She believes herself to be a thing and becomes that thing. He lies to people over time in such a way that he can convince them that they are a different thing and, over time, his power makes them become that thing. His lies allow them to accept Host influence.
- We see Dame Katerina show control over blood, but it’s loose blood - could she control blood that’s still in a person? Could all vampires do this or is it her specialty? Blood mages can control blood and that includes when it’s still in somebody, but there are still different levels of aptitude and ability. That happens to be a specific thing that she in particular specializes in.
- Does Isis have control over Magic as the Goddess of Magic? Could she cut somebody off from magic? She is a master of the type of magic that she/the other Egyptian gods use and is the most magical of them. She could try to use her power to cut somebody off from their power source, but she may not be able to do so. She’s not the “goddess of all magic” (such a being would be impossible), she’s more just the “goddess whose special skill is magic directly.” None of them are really “gods” - they’re more along the lines of claiming that “I’m the god of [X] because I’m the best at [X]” and everyone goes along with that. That’s a major component of the conflict between Ra and Atum since they’re both so good at fire.
- Are the Cursed Acolytes actually cursed? The power they have is Discordian in nature and they have a lot of Discordian power. The “curse” is that this will almost assuredly result in great harm to both themselves and their allies eventually (this doesn’t come across as clearly in the game as they imagine it in the comics).
- I have an RPG player who’s been building a character who is learning magic online and uses things like web forums and Discord servers to ask questions and whatnot; which heroes and/or villains might make use of technology in this way to guide new magic users? Who would shun such practices (either through disdain for the technology or just because “teaching magic over the internet” is a terrible idea)? The Vandals might teach this way, just to be trolls. No heroes would teach people that way. If that’s the character backstory that somebody brings to you, the way they’d approach it would be to have it set up as imagining all the people who talk about learning magic and everything online and setting up everything to do so, but then have this guy actually succeed. Like, everybody is all like “ok, so today I tried such and such and I think it might be working” and all the random junk that people try. Then this guy logs on, sees what people are trying, does so himself and his attunement is such that this actually works and he forges a connection to some power source. Then he’s all excited and keeps posting about what he’s doing and asking questions and everybody else is just offering encouragement and suggestions that should totally work, but is still the same nonsense. So the fun is that this person who is actually trying to learn and find his way through the minefield that is magic use is getting help from wannabes. Maybe he eventually finds a real forum or he can prove that he really is doing stuff to a level that somebody who’s actually in the know and keeps tabs on these nonsense forums contacts him and pulls him aside.
- Could a mage create a do-it-yourself printer/ink cartridge that could print out ready-made magic circles and other similar things [the letter goes on about further “using technology to do magic” things like that]? They’ve talked about Unity and using magic to do technology, but going the other way… Magic is difficult, dangerous, and costly, so it’s not like we should be encouraging this sort of thing. They can see a story were somebody is dabbling in this sort of thing and becomes some kind of digital/technomage. We’re too early on to possibly get to the point where we have technology-aided magic going on. Maybe if Omnitron-X and Unity got together to work on such a project we could get on a road to where we head in that direction years later. We are getting to the point where they could see Virtual Reality technology getting involved and the more the lines between people and machines gets blurred the closer we’d get to the fusion of magic and technology happening.
- Are science and magic anathema to one another causing attempts to join them to fail? No, but nothing naturally works with magic. Using magic as a person is difficult and not likely to work. Trying to get it to work with technology will also be difficult. We’re even looking at a situation where modern technology might actually be taking us away from magic (if you’re writing something as part of a ritual the old ways of using a quill pen made of a feather that was once part of a living being is probably going to be less effective than writing that exact same thing with a fountain pen). Finding new ways to bridge those gaps while still using modern technology is a new problem, but not necessarily an insurmountable one.