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A few in game questions

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So the calomantia gym has a library? Tell me that it has nothing to do with the place's old connections to College Kazus...!

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Free;

From the Team:

"If so, it's extremely well hidden.  ;)

No, the Calomantia library is a collection of Fechtbücher, wrestling manuals, and athletic prayer books (some of them legitimately ancient) alongside more modern sporting biographies and histories.  Some medicine reference as well.  It's actually a fairly deep collection, but it's very specialized."

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And, the reply:

"In terms of what you're going to see routinely, yes - not least because magic allows for multiple routes of relatively secure transmission of information (i.e., glyph-sealed letters, enchanted lockboxes, glamours with specific triggers, astrological sendings, weird familiars, and Oct only knows what else).

That said, Ecarla Agnetti (a fairly recent Minetan spymaster and semi-scandalous former Academy Legate) was known to use - and probably herself devised - a system rather akin to the Vigenère cipher.  And a mathematician from the far north named Elysio Brook wrote a reasonably famous treatise called "De Collocutionis" in 1411 that described a kind of binary cipher that only used dots of black and white (or Xs and Os) and certainly could be extrapolated into a kind of Baconian system.

Or just presented as a terrifying wall of black and white dots.  :)"

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What is the oldest known existing enchantment?

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And, from the Team:

"The answer, sort of, is the enchantment on the Shard of Trigivento.  It's basically a hard stone that dates back to late Draconic times, and is used to knap extraordinarily sharp flint and obsidian arrowheads.  (The mark on it is a kind of proto-rune that seems to signify something like "excellence.")  Legend has it that it's actually a fragment of an even more ancient millstone used to create bread that conveyed extraordinarily long life - but there's no way to confirm it, even astrologically.

The 'sort of' comes from the fact that over the centuries mages have 'renewed' the enchantment, to keep it from entirely withering away.

The Shard is in the private collection of the House of Durand (the royal house, not the College)."

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@Legate of Mineta: 1. Are obsidian/flint weapons used for their magical properties against any types of creatures, in a way akin to silver or iron weapons in real traditions (and Obsidian in a popular fantasy series)?

2. One point in a research chain which I am planning would involve Zoe Melis's coming into Mineta on a route which would allow her to meet with some merchants from outside the Empire of Man. Would this be plausible?

3. I am under the impression that Uliva, as much as she likes snakes, would not like to collect parts from snakes or wear snakes' skins. Am I correct in this?

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The reply:

"1.  Probably not, at least in a technical sense.  There were certainly points in the rebellion against draconic rule where knapped flint and obsidian blades were a lot easier to come by than steel, or even bronze, and they have legendary and ritual places in the popular imagination as a result.  (Also, faerie powers still use them extensively.)  But if there are any creatures that are specifically vulnerable to them, they're not widely known.

 
2.  In terms of pure likelihood, we would think Zoe's odds of running into someone genuinely foreign are higher at the Minetan docks than they would be almost anywhere else she might go.
 
3.  For research purposes, we wouldn't be surprised if she had a collection of snake bits (ideally ones not derived from snakes that had been mistreated).  For fashion or decoration, though?  Unlikely.  Though we could see her liking fabrics with "snakeskin" patterns or the like, if done with real discipline and an artistic eye."

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Rhi;

The reply:

"In a way, the question can be read, "Is it possible to use illegal magic to make contact with another person's sleeping mind, or does it have to be legal?"  And, yeah, it's totally possible to do it illegally.  ;)

More seriously: magically tampering with people's dreams - up to and including murdering them in them with varying real-world consequences - is indeed a Mastery specialization of old, and it's really quite easy to use the same techniques in less violent ways.  Unless you're a virtuoso, the result almost certainly won't look like a normal conversation; it's much more likely that the sender would, say, leave a giant, fiery message for a dreamer to read than that he/she/they would appear in person.  (A dreamer's consciousness is somewhat disordered for conversational purposes to begin with, and most Mastery spells tend to increase the effect; even if a Mastery wizard did show up "in person" to speak, the dreamer's responses and understanding of what was being said would tend to be skewed and fragmentary.)

But, yes, it can be done."

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And the reply:

"It's not really something that comes up.  The family currently lives by the Iulianan Lagoons, which have a haunted and draconic reputation all their own; if somebody chooses to speculate about Uliva's eccentricities, that's generally where the conversation starts."

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27 minutes ago, Legate of Mineta said:

The family currently lives by the Iulianan Lagoons,

Is this in or near Mineta?

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"A different island altogether, Ceada, far to the south.  The population is still Renaglian-speaking, more or less, but it's geographically much closer to Saisyne than to Mineta. 

It's also basically due east from Monteon, though they aren't exactly close."

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1 minute ago, Legate of Mineta said:

"A different island altogether, Ceada, far to the south.  The population is still Renaglian-speaking, more or less, but it's geographically much closer to Saisyne than to Mineta. 

It's also basically due east from Monteon, though they aren't exactly close."

But I thought that Uliva lives in Mineta all the time. Or is her family's headquarters outside Mineta while she lives with some type of Cadet branch?

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And the reply:

"Long and complicated story made short: Uliva's parents are in the employ of the Minetan Guard, but Ceada isn't in the Empire.  It's either a single nation-state that's been in a "cold" civil war for generations or it's an island full of hostile small powers with a common history, depending on whom you ask.  The Captain has reasonably good relations with the powers that be in Iuliana, and he wants to keep it that way - again, the island is very close to Saisyne - but he can't exactly count on them.

So, between violently unstable politics and the threatening nature of the lagoons themselves, Ceada is a hardship posting; the older Valaressos are paid handsomely, and can afford to maintain lodgings in Mineta proper, so that's where Uliva is staying for the time being.  Over the summer, she's generally minded by an aunt (or an honorary aunt), though her parents visit when they can."

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10 hours ago, Legate of Mineta said:

"Uliva's parents are in the employ of the Minetan Guard, but Ceada isn't in the Empire.."

Does or did the Minetan Guard have regular recruitment of people from outside the Empire into elite units, akin to the Byzantine Varangian Guard, the Egyptian Mamlukes, or the Gurkhas?

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On 10/16/2020 at 10:28 PM, Legate of Mineta said:

Free;

From the Team:

"If so, it's extremely well hidden.  ;)

No, the Calomantia library is a collection of Fechtbücher, wrestling manuals, and athletic prayer books (some of them legitimately ancient) alongside more modern sporting biographies and histories.  Some medicine reference as well.  It's actually a fairly deep collection, but it's very specialized."

2) Fechtbücher? Not fencing books?

3) Are the maps that show multiple island's of a area consistent with the location and number of islands or are there differences depending on the knowledge of the map painter?

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Rhi & Schwarzbart;

The reply!

"1)  The Razzia (or the Razzian Watch).  They've been around, in one capacity or another, since the eighth century; the Captain is increasingly using them as his personal guard, as the mercenary company he came up with is getting older and less focused on his individual well-being.  There are probably about 3000 total at the moment.

2)  In Minetan usage, a "fechtbuch" is really any kind of martial arts manual that might have been found in the libraries of the great war dukes of Staade in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  Fencing manuals are a subcategory.

3)  The most common maps are probably "travelers' maps," and those are stylized and wildly imprecise.  They tend to be little more than major landmarks connected by the roads a traveler is supposed to take to get from point A to point B - with the length of the road on the map representing the number of days you can expect to travel rather than objective distance - so a path through a swamp will appear to be longer than an old Imperial road, even if in real terms they're the same length.  It's really the visual equivalent of "start at the foot of the mountain and take the low road for three days until you see the red temple, then take the west path at the crossroads for four days."

And, yes, different printers will have wildly different maps even of the same routes, depending on what they know and what they choose to emphasize.

Navigational maps for airships tend to be better about objective measurements, but extremely low-detail about what's actually on the ground; they tend to just highlight hazards and ports.

Imperial Survey Maps are the closest to what we know and expect today, and there are licensed sellers of these maps scattered around Mineta - they're not hard to find.  (Note that they're not updated annually, but most are at least from the correct century.)  But, really, these are only genuinely popular among land-owners and engineers (including military engineers, unsurprisingly).  Most people consider them to be impersonal and unhelpful, oddly enough."

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In regards to Gates magic being used militarily back in the day, was it only monsters being created/summoned? Or were there Gates masters that specialized in more direct applications in war? I know we're close to [Redacted] territory but surely some amazing stories must have survived the censors if they didn't explain how it was done.

Also, can you tell us more about the last researchers into that branch of Negation that is supposed to negate magic itself before it was banned? Does that magic have some semblance of permanance?

 

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Free;

The reply:

"No, it wasn't only monsters being created/summoned - but, yeah, the details of what exactly was done apart from that are either redacted or so diluted by folklore ("The Night of the Hundred-Year Storm," "They Said It Came from the Sun") as to be mostly worthless to you.  The casters of this kind of magic tend to be remembered semi-mythically as well: the likes of "Torn Tomasz" or "Jerlagianna, Thrice-Made of Shadow."

As for the Negators in question: probably the most famous lot was a society that just called themselves "The Order of the Quiet House."  They tended to wear masks and hoods that hid their faces and bands of leather made from lost, mythical creatures they called "dauphins" - distant cousins of the modern dolphins that live in the deepest lakes.

It's not clear that any place where they nullified (to oversimplify greatly) magic remains magically unworkable - but there are places where the ley lines shine different colors to those who can see them and where simple incantations can instead call gates, and the histories of those places are suggestive."

Happy Halloween!

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Rhi;

"'Could Lambert Cobo bribe Aymeri Coeur's familiar into feeding him information on Aymeri without Aymeri finding out?' The answer is yes, but it's extremely complicated.  Familiars can't generally consciously betray their wizards, no matter how screwy their relationships, and that generally extends to revealing a confidence.  That said, a familiar with a very weak bond to its wizard might not really grasp what constitutes a betrayal, and is more likely to be suckered into reporting on the wizard "for the wizard's own good," or something similar."

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so the familiar can be tricked into revealing important info of their master or accepting a spell on them without the familiar actual tell the master?

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