Observer wrote:Eandil, I find your scientific approach to magic interesting. I like your conceptualization of using magic like playing music, and creating spells like composing music. I have a few questions.
Thank you! I'll try to respond to all of them. They're really interesting.
Observer wrote:1) How do amulets increase spell power if magic functions via consciousness?
Let's see, magic functions via consciousness, but in a specific way: to cast a spell, a particular mental state is required, which implies a particular brain state (physical
brain state). Obviously you do not learn every neuronal connexion and apply it, but rather memorize a particular sensation, sound, image, words... etc. that provokes the mental state or its closest approximation. This is why inventing spells is so difficult; magicians just learn all or most of their spells.
Some situations (for example, the Sun or daylight with fire magic) help the magician approach the optimal mind state to cast the spell. However, not only situations; the same goes for objects (usually enchanted magical objects, which may help achieve the mind state in a more abstract way, like altering your soul directly, because the mind is to the soul like the brain to the body). So everything that helps you focus in your magic operates improving
your mind states, which consequently also increases your ability to cast more powerful magic at a given time: it increases your potestas
Observer wrote:2) What/who determines whether intent is good or il? Is there such a thing as neutral intent?
Broadly defined, intent is the motivation to do something. On the framework I've defined, however, every action with intent is to some point moral, be it as irrelevant as you wish. Good intent seeks moral goodness, angelic ways; ill intent seeks moral detriment, demonic ways. Only non-sentient beings which don't have intent are amoral. If you talk about intent, you talk about conscious intelligent motivation, which is moral by definition, so there's no really neutral intent. If you kick a rock, for example, you can't talk properly about intent because you're not really following a "conscious intelligent motivation", it's probably more whimsical or capricious (or even accidental), an so you can say it's an amoral action.
In the framework which I have in mind for the magic, which even if not in a particular conworld has some definite properties, good and evil are absolute and separate from human biology. They're properties inherent to the universe, which remain true even if there is no life. This is pretty much unrelated to the magic, but I can answer as well if you like. The physical universe tends to maximum entropy or chaos, while consciousness has the property to create order against this tendency. Sentient beings are divided between those who seek order and those who seek chaos, which is why they are good or evil. These are just names. There's nothing you can say to a demon to convince him good is "better" than evil. He just loathes "good" because, for him, chaos or evil is the ultimate goal.
Observer wrote:3) You say there's a wide variety of types of inert aether spread all over the world, constantly interacting, like reactive gasses in our world. In our world, reactive gasses will eventually stop reacting, reach equilibrium and homogenize (otherwise, you'd have free/unlimited energy). What prevents this from occuring in the aether?
That our atmosphere is a closed system, but the ""aethersphere"" isn't: it's constantly being drained by magicians, and at the same rate, ethereal beings with no body do the opposite, they convert energy into several types of aether. It's cyclical, and conserves motion and heterogeneity.
Observer wrote:4) You say you can't turn all of your mana pool into energy, just a portion of it. Why?
It's a biological limitation (not a physical one, more like a spiritual one). You can
cast spells, or the same spell multiple times, until you are out of mana, but what you cannot do is use all of your mana in one spell to achieve an incredible amount of energy. This happens because of two reasons: firstly, the spell has its own maximum (it has one definite effect and not another, or it would be a different spell); and secondly, you do. Normally you can't achieve this maximum effect described because you require training, to become more powerful. If you have enough spell power, however, you can cast the spell at its maximum.
Observer wrote:5) You define evil as "who seeks chaos," and presumably good as "who seeks order." You're creating this magic system outside any specific conworld, but if chaos is evil and order is good, that implies something for the conworld; a lack of entropy. Have you thought about this?
Why? I know the physical universe tends towards entropy, but reality is dual here: the spiritual world, whose main property is consciousness, contains sentient minds with the ability for both, seek chaos or order. One thing is what the physical universe does and a different things is what sentient beings do.
That order is the good thing doesn't imply it's "what nature prefers". Nature is indifferent, both are in constant fight and they can win at different times. It's not a "good boys must win". In fact, gods exist, and they're morally capable of both good and evil, with generally no real rational preference. (angelic
is not related to godly - note how I avoid the adjective "divine", because of its positive connotations).
Observer wrote:6) Could I use water magic to a) create water inside someone's lungs or b) violently force all water out of a person's body?
If you discover the mind state which causes those spells, then sure, why not. Invoking water in a specific part of someone's body should be an easy task. Manipulating already-existent water, in the microscopic level, would be much harder.
Observer wrote:7) I don't understand why fire and water are considered "pure elements" and wind and earth "natural." Can you try to explain the difference between "pure" and "natural?"
Elemental magic describes the elements of the world. Then you can break it into natural magic (nature, wind, earth) and elemental magic (fire, water). Since I consider earth and wind parts of natural magic (here take natural as biological, or relating to life, mainly), the other elements are called pure just for the sake of distinction (and that they're less related to life). But however, I'm aware wind doesn't have much to do with life and water is probably quite important. In this sense, I should probably explain it better because of the relationship between their aethers, take I speak about the types of magic merely. Why wind magic has more in common with natural magic than water magic is something probably related to the mind states, and not easily explainable.
How do males and females have "signs" and why are they + and - respectively?
Again, like chaos and order, these are properties inherent to the universe. The individual assignment of signs is not important, just the contrast and the relationships between same-sign and opposite-sign (for example think of why in our own universe we have electrical charges + and -).
As for males and females, well, don't take it too seriously, but the reason is that males seem to be slightly better at positively-charged magics (fire, earth, holy) and women at negatively-charged magics (frost, wind, shadow). Since the inherent sexual dimorphism in the human species makes us have slightly different brains, we can expect a slight difference in how mental states adequate for spells are reached.
Observer wrote:9) If fire magic is easy, is it used technologically, to heat homes and power steam engines?
Easy among wizards, but to handle them you have to have some education in magic. And magic is not
To answer this, I'd need to have a particular conworld in mind, but I don't. I guess it depends on what wizards are in a particular society. I haven't really thought about using magic for technology, because that's not a topic which interests me much, but I guess you can use a good fire spell to light a fireplace