This year, once the pdocast is done with the works of Lord Dunsany, we’ll be heading off into the works of MR James. One of his stories is an apology where he gives the brief details of stories he has tried to write, but failed to conclude. I suppose every Ars Magica author has some of these. It often works out: my desire to write about Antilla took ten years to finally make it to the page. Still, for the podcast there are some items which keep floating from notebook to notebook, and it’s time to send them out onto the web, where people can find a use for them, or not.
The problem with creating magic items which are steered by an occupant is that the rules penalise them for being large. If you have a person who is like Tomb Thumb or Thumbelina, though, you could make a perfectly functional combat drone relatively cheaply. You might also have a magic item which shrinks down a person of average size, to allow them to act as pilot. Ghosts are even easier: the skull is the place of the grave, so you could put a poltergeist in one of these things, like the haunted bowling ball in “Mystery Men”.
When the white people came to Australia, they would sometimes hear a woman screaming in the wilderness. They’d also find animals dead, but with their heads bitten off. They blamed this on the bunyip, but we now know it was barking owls. I was working on a Bjornaer angle, but the owl appears to be an Australian native. I often use Australian animals in Faerie, though, and it seems like an interesting idea to have a Bjornaer necromancer who can become a sort of owl/banshee thing.
In the film clip for Smooth Criminal, Michael Jackson punches an enemy into the Twilight Void, leaving a cutout in the wall that looks like a silhouette. I’d like to know if any Criamon can do that. Are there creatures like the Scissormen in Doom Patrol that can do that, and is it a good or a bad thing? For a player, it loses their character, but for the character, that’s ascension, isn’t it?
Lord Dunsany had an odd chess variant named after him, where a swarm of pawns attack a standard chess army. I also have a note here to explain bughouse chess. This is a sort of paired chess where each piece you take becomes a piece your partner can use against his rival.
Personality traits from books
I note my diction changes when I read certain books. Can you develop personality traits by reading books? Do this occur at the same time as other learning? Is it required for the learning? It clearly is in certain mystagoguic settings.
Medieval people didn’t sleep through the night like us. That’s a modern, industrialised, sleep pattern. Magi, further, need to be awake at dawn and dusk to keep their parmae up, so their sleep cycle is weirdly nyctophobic.
The quality control on the translations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula wasn’t great. The Icelandic serialisation by Valdimar Ásmundsson has a half-vampiric ape in it. That sounds like a lot of fun, frankly. It’s been back-translated as “Powers of Darkness”. In a related idea, there’s a valley in Norway that never gets direct sunlight. I think necormancers should live there.
Charles Martel invented human chess. What does it do to you in a world full of faeries to take on the role of a knight, or a queen or a castle?
The patron saint of bakers and pastries gets his first chapel in Paris in 1202. I blame House Jerbiton for this. See also the people who eat books made of phyllo pastry.
Teleporting is impossible
I recall reading in an ancient copy of Fortean Times that medieval people believed people were never miraculously moved from ne place to another instantly: instead, they were carried unharmed from place to place at vastly rapid speeds. This means that you can’t teleport through a wall unless there’s a mundane path around the wall. The idea is all tangled up in the belief that your personal matter mattered. Our idea that provided your soul was still attached to whatever comes out of the transporter is you did not carry any weight with medieval theologians. Such a thing was a duplicate, not you, even if it housed your soul.
Augustine discussed this a lot in reference to the bodily Resurrection before judgement. If you are to be given your old body back, glorified, what happens to the body of a cannibal? Does he get the material of your body back that he has absorbed into his body? The theology takes a long time, and doesn’t lead anywhere useful here, because Ars has chosen to allow teleportation, but I do rather like the idea that Leap of Homecoming is kind of like an actual Seven League Stride: you do go through the intervening space.