|From the Bat Labels tumblr, it's a death bee. Queen of the death bees in fact.|
The book Evolving the Alien defines life as anything capable of Self Replication , Mutation , and Hereditary (paraphrasing a little here).
So while fire can reproduce , the "child" fire will only have properties from its immediate environment , so it's not alive, as per the defination.
Computer viruses* reproduce , have hereditary but don't mutate by themselves, unless you count human beings reworking them or modifying them as a form of reproduction and mutation.. in which case I guess they count as alive for this definition.
Conventional virii rely on repurposing another living entity for reproduction so if you want to accept their edge-caseness , using a human brain as form sex organ is just a step further.
*I'm possibly well out of date here with how this work so inform me if I am
The book offers a hypothetical extreme example of magnetic vortices on the surface of the sun as an possibility of a life form.
(I can't remember it well enough to explain how that works sorry)
and today's post (actually been sitting around in draft form for weeks) is about making other extreme lifeforms in elfgames
(there's like 3-4 blog posts and threads that have all blurred together in my head and I can't credit the originator exactly, but yes , this idea has previous precedence)
Dungeonea is a negative lifeform. Its structure is absence , its metabolism chronovorical , its gametes erasural.
Its seed will potentially germinate on anything hidden or lost , especially in enclosed negative space ; a basement , cave , or pit.
From there its metabolism rides on the process of time , "speeding things up" , the walls erode out , the geological tick-tock hastens, and notable , more history becomes to have happened.
(it's important to note in a world with magic , the act and fact of the observation of reality is a much of a viable substrate as the solid lumpy bits are)
So an ordinary basement , can , depending on the exact* species of Dungeonea in it , can with a generation grow an abandoned thieves hideout, a murder cult church , and a cave bear lair.
Dungeonea hijack speculation, local mythology, and folk history in their metabolic process, in the same way a tree will pull CO2 out of the air and H20 out of the ground to craft its bulk.
Part of their phenotypical capabilities are to redirect the lost or desperate towards themselves. I.e beings that might think it a reasonable thing to hide out in a horrible damp cave.
Things that have no agency of their own (ie objects) can be relocated to itself if no-one is actually sure of where exactly they are, in a form of behind the scenes metaphysical ledgermayne.
Anyone stashing or hiding anything near a Dungeon risks memory loss or confusion about where they placed the thing concerned. After a while the thing will then be found in the Dungeon itself.
The Dungeon benefits from this by the creation of further rumour, mythology and history making, micro and macro nutrients to it.
Anything taken from a Dungeon can convincingly seed another: wealth , legendary weapons or trophies etc from a Dungeon that get lost or secreted away in a suitable environment have a high chance of germinating another.
To aid this , like the over-consummation of fruit hastening the voiding of a swallowed seed, such things tend to encourage asociality, risk taking, exploration, greed and paranoia. (the source of talk of "cursed treasure" or dragon's tainted gold)
Different genus of Dungeonea differ from each other in the speed which they grow , the seamlessness (or lack thereof) into their surroundings, and the degree of physiologically effects on the population (retro-active mythologising, hoarding, culting forming, abandonment of children ) or the degree of "taint" on objects taken from there.
*I was going to try and map out the Domain , Kingdom , Phylum etc of Dungeonea with the Domain being Negative Space Lifeforms, the Kingdom being Architectural, and the Phylum being one that manipulates history; however it threatened to become a paralytically explosive form of speculation so Arnold can do it.
Spells most notable "phenotype" is of course a rearrangement of reality in the form of More Fire or Less Alive People etc. Most of the time they live inside the inflicted wizards brain , jealously guarding their patch of mental territory
Mental territory is either the prime juicy realm of a "memorized" spell, which can be cast, or the scratchy barren realms of a "known" spell, of which a wizard has familiarized themselves with but can't currently cast.
(it should be noted , that yes, doing more than most cursory skim read any spell risks it then permanently having a presence in wizards brain despite no formal memorization happening.)
Most spells currently in use by wizards are a satisfactory balance between usefulness (the spells effect) and in-mind aggressiveness.
In much the same way most gardens and farms are comprised of crops known to be not poisonous, not evasive , and relatively hardy and pest resistant.
The common spells also demands a proportionate amount of mental space for its effects. A level 3 spell uses up a level 3 slot. etc
However there is nothing innate to a spells possible nature that means it has be well behaved, reasonable or viable.
Rogue , weed, parasite, trap ,pest etc spells are known . Ones that happily bully every other spell out of a wizard's head, or intercept an intention and make themselves cast instead.
Some appear to be a routine Unseen Servant or Floating Disc but are complete brutes in regards to other spells and will carve out the space that otherwise would be commandeered by a 2nd ,3rd or even 5th level spell .
Some are known to even make more room available for themselves if the wizard otherwise doesn't have the casting level, repurposing mental resources used for memory, body functions, or aspects of the wizards identity for itself.
Other mutants and rogue spells work the other way. They attempt to out compete other spells in selection by the wizard using less mental resources (spell "slots) for more effect (higher level). However , there is no such thing as a free lunch. These varieties tend to do permanent damage to the wizard or the nature of reality around the wizard.
Anytime a wizard learns a spell (by which meaning: familiarizes themselves with a spell in a transcribed form well enough to know its game effects) there is a minute risk a reproduction error will creep in , in the same way our own reproduction is subject to. Most wizard training is about minimizing and deleting these "errors" so spells stay pretty much the same.
However self taught wizards, disreputable or deliberately iconoclastic schools run a much higher risk of translation errors.
In conclusion spells can be said to be asexual reproducers . A "sexual"* reproduction also exists, the striking of inspiration that harbingers a wizard creating a new spell.
This rare event results in spells that tend to be better behaved than rogues or mutants, but still, extreme caution should is used .
\This why the lexicon of spells is a relatively static affair .
*though a far more of a chaotic free for all of trait assignment that a diploid chromosomal affair . Which , how many, and how much any spell is involved in the pregeneratory of a new spell is impossible to say.
I wound up writing that in a particular voice and that was kinda weird. I had some more ideas which I might expand on later
Rock statues , gargoyles : crap that looks appropriate around the place but suffers from too much attention. Sometimes becomes murderous
Cloud vortexs : reasons why the weather makes no goddamn sense around here/ being parasited by a cloud
Storms , wave mazes: ditto for spooky islands
Gravity Coral : Floating solid stuff that makes horrible space holes and space treasure
But for now some game effects for rogue spells:
(NOTE: I think I made this game effect too invested in making statistically accurate results for the game world, so if you just like effects the generate more game relevance just change it to stat check or roll on mutation table)
(EDIT: I think Arnold's table fits the text better , and is also his usual standard of great ,so have a look at that too
When a wizard looks at spell well enough that the g.m can go "it's a fireball but it does 4d6 damage and uses bees" it will live their head. Prob in a pathetic form that will never get the chance to do anything, unless the wizard is not in their right mind, trained by maniacs, or the spell is a dangerous rogue variant.
It also risks the spell mutanting slightly. In a well trained and healthy wizard mind in regards to a tried and tested spell the chance is about 1 in 10,000.
this risk only happens the first time the spell is known and then again when it is memorized.
However the following increases the chance by a decimal each:
-wizard is high, suffering from prolonged stress or deprivation, drunk, concussed, mentally ill or otherwise "not right" (more than one can apply)
-memorizing rather than just perusing
-spell is an 'unstable' variant*
-wizard is self taught
-school of magic practised is gauche , thuggish or 'avantgarde'
so a drunk gauche-schooled wizard memorizing a conventional fireball has a 1 in 100 chance of having a spell mutant when memorizing it for the first time. If they were sleep deprived as well a 1 in 10. And then furthermore if the spell was Unstable , a 100% chance (or if you prefer , a 9 in 10 chance )
*as indicated by something like "this scroll has an unstable version of a fireball spell" etc. Also there are some Very Unstable spells which roll for mutation every time they are memorized.
THIS SPELL HAS MUTANTED! Or permanently damaged the casters brain
But it is a small matter!
1. Some aspect of the wizards personality is always apparent , like the spell is gaudy and overly showy or involves a disportionate amount of skulls. Anyone passingly familiar with them will be able to recognise such a spell as being cast by them.
2. The spell has cross infected another !Roll a mutation for another spell the wizard has memorized.
3. Double the duration, effect or range of the spell, whatever seems the less relevant and half whatever of them is the most relevant. Randomly determine if unobvious.
4. If caster has any spell disrupted this spell is immediately cast instead.
5. Spell is insecure! Caster now can't speak the name or describe any other spell they know or have ever heard of. Charades or opaque descriptions is okay. The spell will prob catch on to nicknames for other spells though.
6. The spell is eager to please but prone to passive aggression. If the spell is cast first in a day , you may reroll and keep the best of any one roll to do with the spell. If it is not the first spell you cast in this day , one roll to do with it is rerolled and the worst result used
7. You may instantly rememorize this spell if you knock a wizard unconscious , destroy a scroll or spellbook.
8. This spell manages to look a lot like it's doing the opposite to what it is actually doing.
9. It will leave (additional) lingering traces of its use, such as eldritch markings, fruity smells, cold patches, unnatural plant growth etc. The host wizards personality tends to shape such a thing.
10 roll on next table
I guess of concern but not unduly
1. Spell casts itself twice, second time random target
2. This spell is always "chosen" to be memorized when selecting spells
3. Wizard loses all memory of childhood.
4. If player stalls for too long when declaring action, their character casts this spell if able
5. A random animal nearby begins to detest the host wizard
6. Minor nose bleed and major auditory hallucinations whenever spell is cast
7. Random stat is reduced by 3 points whenever spell is not currently memorized.
8. Spell teaches you one secret of anyone the host wizard successfully casts it on
9. After casting the spell a unidentifiable mass of semi-animate flesh must be dug out of skin later or infection will result
10 roll on next table
..well yes Could be worse I suppose
2. Every time this spell is cast the nearest unborn animal mutants significantly
3. Host wizard will always make this spell available to someone else on request , stopping anything they currently are doing to facilitate a transcription.
4. Spells effect for the next casting will change nightly to the most impressive spell effect host wizard has been witness to each day. However it remains still at its level of potency, so it might be level 1 version of fly or such like.
5. Spell will bud off into 1d4 half strength versions of itself whenever cast. (1 means as "normal") . Random targets will be assigned unless host wizard can quickly assign them.
6. Spell upon cast will make way more noise and light than is ever conceivably necessary and additionally alert anything sensitive to magic of the casters existence with 3 kilometers
7. Each time the spell is cast a random sense is halved in effectiveness and another one doubled.
8 Each time this spell is cast the nearest ghost or spirit has their memory altered so the host wizard significantly figures in it
9 Inflicts hitpoint damage to the wizard equal to itself level when cast. Damage happens at very end of round , if someone else takes this amount of damage due to the actions host wizard (due to this spell , an ongoing effect of a previous action e.g setting someone on fire or other circumstances) , host wizard does not take this damage , or atleast has the damage reduced by the amount inflicted.
10 roll on next table
1. The only language or speech the host wizard is capable of is saying is the spell's name
2. Double its effects but reduce host wizards level for anything other than spell casting and exp needed for next level by 2
3. Each time this spell is cast , a random dimensional interloper shows up the next day
4. 5% of the wizard's body disappears when the spell is cast, as if they were a swiss cheese. Use this cumulative percent as the chance that this kills them outright
5. Casting any other spell does damage = its level
6 . Spell can be memorized as a level 1 spell but all other level one spells become Very Unstable when this is done.
7. Spell effect repeats 1d6 rounds later. If a 6 is rolled , reroll but repeats in minutes. If another 6 , hours.
8. Spell can change various aspects of itself to suit a situation such as elemental type or the shape of its effect as negotiated by the caster to it. It will now take a share of exp like a henchman however.
9 . Caster gains a random mutation each time spell is cast. If they start spamming this spell until they get something super good , make the spell develop another mutation
10 Just fuck them up
Note anecdotal evidence suggests negative effects can be remedied or at least somewhat mitigated by the consummation of wizard brains and/or organ transplants