As noted in Treatment this is How I’ve decided to handle the matter of magick in the Dangerous Journeys system in general, and the Mythus RPG specifically
This is part 2 of the Heka series and covers how I’ve chosen to handle magick and heka in the Mythus RPG and the Ærth setting. You don’t have to entirely agree with me, think of what I present here is a bunch of suggestions you can try out of you like, throw out if you prefer, or mangle as you wish.
Ærth is a world where magick works. More specifically; wh ere magick works, can be understood, and can be treated as a science. The hypotheses can be proved, and proved. It produces results that can not be explained otherwise than by attributing it to magick.
What is Magick?
For our purposes magick is the manipulation of the environment or part of the environment without the use of any physical tool. Exactly what is being used can be open to debate, but for Dangerous Journeys I’ve decided that the main tool is the user’s soul, or will.
To be honest with you the Spiritul Trait in DJ can be said to be tied to the Mental Trait, except for the matter of the spiritual having to do more with emotion and feeling than the dry intellectuality of the mind. But for our purposes the matters of understanding and connection really can’t be said to be anything like memory or reasoning. Understanding does help you figure a matter out, but understanding isn’t always necessary.
And I have suddenly realized that the subject of magick on Ærth is going to need more than this single blog post. I know I said I would, but tales like this do have the unfortunate tendency to grow in the telling. So part 3 is coming up and that will deal with the subject of Heka.
I’m thinking about Mythus and Ærth when it occurs to me that my thinking about the magick of Ærth really isn’t all that original. I got it instead from the Derlavi series by Harry Turtledove, Touted as a fantasy version of World War II, it seems to me more like a science fiction version of WWII given fantasy trappings.In Out of the Darkness Turtledove presents magic as a science, as a subject which can be, and is, treated as a science. For in Out of the Darkness the theoretical Kuusamo mage Pekka works with her fellows on the hypothesis that the Laws of Sympathy and Antipathy are in all actuality aspects of the Law of Relationships.
Now I know that a fair number of you are going to be bit put out that Turtledove and I decided to treat magic as a science.But that’s our business. Where Turtledove is concerned he decided that the Derlavi would and could see magic as a type of science, as would and could I where Ærth is concerned.
Well first, because magic works in the two worlds, and in both cases magic can be understood much as, say, physics and chemistry in our world. What magic is and how it can be learned and used is open to investigation. It can be proved and disproved.
The magick of Ærth—to use Gary’s spelling—works. It produces results that cannot be explained away. A wall gets raised thanks to a dweomer, it is the dweomer that does the job and not a work crew using ordinary tools and materials. That is what I mean by working magick.
The Force According to Earth
In our reality we know of 4 forces; Gravity, the Strong Nuclear, the Weak Nuclear, and Electromagnetism. Now the first three do have an impact on our existence, but it is the last that shapes our world, giving it the substance we call matter. For the objects we know and deal with on a daily bases are essentially electromagnetic clouds we interact with using electromagnetic clouds of our own.When I type a letter on my computer’s keyboard it is the cloud it we call a finger that interacts with the cloud we call a key to send a message to the computer to produce the appropriate letter on the screen.
In addition my finger cloud is connected to other clouds in my hand, which are in turn connected through a cloud we call a nerve to the cloud we call a brain, which sends messages through the nerve cloud to the muscle clouds in hand and finger which tells them to take the action which allow me to depress the key cloud, which then in turn sends a message to the processor cloud in the computer to form pixel clouds on the monitor screen in the form of a letter.
Where Ærth and Derlavi Are Concerned
Well I don’t know where Derlavi is concerned, but with Ærth it would appear there are also 4 forces; Gravity, Heka, Magnetism, and Electricity. There scientists are not aware that Electricity and Magnetism can be said to be the same force, and they have no inkling of the existence of the nuclear forces.
But they do have a force we don’t, Heka.
What is a Force?
As I understand it, a force is a phenomenon arising with how spacetime is deformed. More specifically with how it can be deformed. Gravity it would appear is the product of a rather gentle deformation, one where spacetime really doesn’t get bent out of shape to any great degree. Where the Strong Force is concerned the warping of spacetime would appear to be rather radical, though fortunately rather short ranged.
In the case of Ærth’s Heka since it can’t exist in our reality it’s basically impossible to learn just how radical the spacetime deformation can be. For my part I’m going to assume that it is not as gente as Gravity, but now quite as severe as Electromagnetism. But it is closer to EM than it is to Gravity because of what can manifest as a result of the deformation.
What Electromagnetism Produces
You get right down to it, what Electromagnetism ultimately produces is matter.For matter, both and Earth as on Ærth, is essentially an Electromagnetic cloud arising from the object we call the atom. What Heka ultimately produces is an object we shall call a hekon. A sort of “magickal” equivalent to the atom, which produces much of what atoms do, but not exactly in the same way.
To be Continued
And now I’m running out of energy, with my apnea I really don’t get the rest I need from sleep.Hopefully I’ll be getting a cpap in January. But until then I’m going to get what sleep I can, and then continue on with an essay of how I think Heka and the magick it enables works. All I can ask is your patience and forebearance.Till next time.
Since earlier versions of this are no longer available I’ve decided to rewrite this. This is a sort of introduction to the Mythus role playing guide―RPG―and the world of Ærth.
Mythus is a sort of fantasy RPG, though not as something like Dungeons & Dragons or Runequest is. Mythus is instead a sort of gaslight fantasy, at least where my work appears to be taking it. The technology is largely medieval or renaissance, though in some respects the world of Mythus does appear to be advancing into the modern era, and in some respects the early industrial.
Why the rewrite?
I was inspired by a book, Three Princes by Ramona Wheeler. The book is an alternate history in which Julius Caesar stayed in Egypt and managed to consolidate his power there. The story itself concerns the three princes of the title in a world with intrigue, skullduggery, and an appearance by Otto von Bismarck―who appears for a good reason.
Ms. Wheeler also mentions a substance she calls Haeka, which she later informed me is an alternate spelling of the Egyptian heka.
Oh, and Three Princes also has air ships―dirigibles in this case I think―which would appear to make it a proper alternate history. All in all I’ve found it to be a good read, with interesting characters and good world building.
Now that you know something of why I’m reiterating earlier work we can go on to the world of Ærth and the Mythus RPG.
The First Thing
And that starts with the fact that Mythus is a fantasy RPG, and that means that it has magick. Though not necessarily magick as many of us think of it.
In our world there are those who say that magick uses an energy unknown to science. It comes down to a desire to get magick accepted as a science, because science has done a lot for us and has a certain panache. In the eyes of some science is romantic. As far as I can see the magick in Mythus has much of the flavor of science to it, for all that it really can’t be a science in our world. Yet in Mythus it is treated as scientific and it is as a science that it is understood.
But keep in mind that how magick is treated is how I understand the people of Ærth understand it, and that may not be entirely accurate. For in all honesty science is not a matter of discovering absolute facts, but more a matter of making intelligent guesses we then verify as best we can using what we know and what seems reasonable to us. And it behooves us to remember that on Ærth sages and scholars really haven’t been looking long or very hard at how magick works, having devised explanations that make sense to them. On Ærth the scientific method is still rather new and could use some further development.
That should suffice for this draft. Coming up I’ll be taking a look at the world and magick of Ærth and how it is like our magick, but yet is not.
On Ærth the first train of the modern railroad of the modern type was laid down in an empty field some 5 miles north of Paris in France. The track was a mile in circumfrance and the train ran at a dizzying 5 miles an hour. This prototype railroad was established at the direction of Charles IX le Roi, then monarch of France. The route was established at the direction of the court diviner, who had seen vision of French rail crisscrossing the country, with long trains carrying passengers and cargo. He made sure to mention the tax revenues that would come with the railroads.
This first rail was established as a proof of concept, with Charles’ encouragement—and a few executions of the obstinant, it took just a few months to get the track laid and the locomotive and a car built.. The next couple of years were spent working out some kinks; such as the need for flanged wheel, better brakes and connections, and better signalling. The first cowcatchers were installed aroound this time.
But this micro railroad had a few limitations, so Charles pushed for and got and the track extented to a circumverence of 10 miles. Along with this came a more powerful locomotive pulliing a three car train.
Wheels,rails, brakes, connections, and signals saw further improvement, and soon enough the royal railroad was carrying passengers our for a day of adventure. There were tourneys and fairs, and circus strongmen vied against each other to see who could pull the heaviest load. During a series of strong rains the need for sand to provide traction on the wet rails saw boxes that could provide it. While the first attempted train robbery pointed out the need to provide personnel to handle disposing of the resulting corpses—Lady J’darc took care of the blackguard by puncturing his heart with her epee, an event that would be followed by others over the course of time.
In 985 Charles IX le Roi ordered the construction of a track 20 miles in diameter at a location some 20 miles north of Paris. Along with the track were built more powerful locomotives capable of 10 miles an hour, larger passengers cars and the first frieght cars. The first railroad stations were established at one mile intervals,and farmers and the like were encouraged to send their goods by rail. Along with passenger and merchant traffic this proved to be popular and profitable to the crown.
In a special stunt arranged between two cavalier troops—one going by rail, the other “on foot” if you like—it was shown that that the troop who traveled by rail, though it actually took longer for one reason or another,actually arrived at their destination better rested and better able to participate in the competition the two held.
Not that everybody was convinced of the value of railroads to France, but the objections were rather firmly squashed and it wasn’t long before railroads were being planned between Paris, Orleans, Nancy, Nantes, and as far as Tours in the south. It also led to delegations from as far away as Japan and the Mandan nations of Vargaard visiting to see how things worked. There are stories saying that parties of Lemurians skulked around, but no such delegations announced themselves.
By 994 it looked like France was well on the way to becoming a nation of rails. The time between then and now—1017—seeing some 200 miles of track being laid done, with another 500 miles planned for.