Anonymous asked: can we get an infodump on teleportpocalypse and magical girls?

moonlit-tulip:

Sure!


So, in the teleportation apocalypse world, the magic system involves performing a sequence of mental actions which correspond with, essentially, characters in a magical alphabet which can be chained together into magical programs. Magic is all about instantaneous effects before and after which mundane physics apply as usual; it can’t do things like “make this item magical” or “alert me any time someone enters this room”, but it can do things like “transform this item into a different substance” or “create a tripwire at the entrance to this room”.

The magic system was originally created with the assumption that users would have access to the documentation. The original users all died off millions of years before humans existed, though, and so nobody has access to the documentation. As such, while humans had access to magic, their access was essentially just a matter of noticing by trial and error that particular sequences of mental actions produced weird effects. Notably, since dangerous spells vastly outnumber safe ones, trying to invent new spells was an activity far likelier to end with the inventor dying in a dramatic fashion, and as such, while spell development happened, it was very slow.

For a long time, different societies each had their own distinct collections of the few spells they knew that were (a) safe to use and (b) did things which were useful rather than things like “produce a weird smell briefly”. But over time some travelers started writing compilations of spells from different places, and it eventually became possible to pull together a pretty robust library of the different spells which had been discovered. Still, since spells were generally put together on the basis of more-or-less random combinations of inputs rather than any genuine understanding of the system, while they were sometimes useful (e.g. for setting things on fire, or for creating otherwise-hard-to-acquire materials, or the like), they weren’t generally well-optimized for usefulness.

In a bout of bad luck for the world as a whole, the first person to (a) have access to such a library, (b) be reckless enough to want to engage in magical experimentation despite the historically-high odds of death, and © be clever enough to use that large bunch of magical code samples to reverse-engineer large chunks of the magic language without dying was kind of an idiot in many ways. To briefly summarize the somewhat-elaborate story of her life: she decided she wanted to use hew newly-acquired magical overpoweredness to take over her home country; her advisor, in an attempt at damage control, advised her to get some followers rather than popping in as a total unknown; she did so and took over the country; and she decided to reward her inner circle of followers for their loyalty by giving each of them access to a single spell she’d designed. Her spells, being designed by someone who actually understood the magic system, were uniformly actually well-optimized for use by humans. One follower got a very powerful healing spell, one got a long-distance spying spell, et cetera. And one got a teleportation spell.

They were all told to not share their spells around further, and most of them followed that, but the teleportation spell’s recipient nonetheless started sharing the spell around. She gave it to a few friends of hers; they passed it along further; and eventually the spell was more-or-less uncontainably leaked. Its creator tried to hunt down everyone who had it, but gave up once they started wising up to her being after them and scattering to all sorts of different countries, because with the magic system being instantaneous in the way it was there wasn’t really a good way to track them at that point.

And so, all around the world, there started being people with access to an untraceable easy-to-cast long-distance teleportation spell. Word about how to cast it kept spreading throughout populations, with no easy way to curb the spread; and things started breaking. Armies with the spell could pop into enemy rulers’ homes, bypassing all city walls and opposing armies and other defenses, and kill them in their sleep before installing themselves as the new rulers; thieves with the spell could grab piles of valuables and then vanish off into other countries to sell them off and be rich; bandits could steal farmers’ grain out of storage and get away cleanly and untraceably; et cetera. It became generally very easy to engage in and get away with large quantities of antisocial behavior which would otherwise be more difficult and be likely to get one killed. And so, globally, societies started destabilizing and collapsing.

It’s been about two centuries since then, and while society is now more-or-less functional again, it’s very much rebuilt in a manner shaped by the spell. Governments are secretive about their members’ identities and about where they spend their time, for fear of assassins; people are generally very secretive about where they keep their valuables, with any items kept in public assumed to be communal goods that anyone can grab and put wherever is most useful; various organizations attempt to run international law-enforcement firms which keep lists of known criminals and kill them on sight, in order to disincentivize the “act antisocially and then teleport a few countries away”; et cetera.

This last part, the details of what the world is like post-teleportation-apocalypse, is the part I’ve been stuck on for the past several years and which is holding me back from writing stories set in the world. I’ve got a decent big-picture sense of things at this point, but I need to draw in a lot more detail than I currently have before I can really envision the setting in sufficient detail to write in it. But once I’ve got that detail I feel like it’s going to make for a very fun setting for espionage-focused stories of some sort.


Then the magical girls world. This one actually has a whole big multiverse, and the rules of the multiverse-in-general inform the rules of the individual sub-parts thereof, so I’m going to start with that.

There’s a multiverse. It’s arranged in a star structure, with each of about 200 worlds being connected to a single central world but not connected to each other. Each of those 200 worlds, but not the central world, has a gigantic native reservoir of magic, which expresses itself in a fashion that varies on a per-world basis; some have magical creatures like dragons, some have magic be innate to humans, some have magic be external to humans but controllable via appropriate rituals, some have their magic totally inert, et cetera. Magic isn’t consumed on use; it’s just, while being used, unavailable for other uses. So there’s no decay-over-time in worlds with dragons or whatever, there’s just a cap on how many dragons could in theory exist. The per-world magic reservoir is huge enough that that limitation is rarely relevant to anything. Crucially, while the magic’s capabilities are nearly limitless given a sufficient quantity of it thrown at a task, one absolute limit is that it’s impossible for magic to interact with any worlds to which its own housing world isn’t connected; and, furthermore, impossible for it to do anything between worlds except for bridging the spatial disconnect. So transportation between the central world and a noncentral world is possible, as is creation of a stable portal therebetween, but (for example) remotely using magic to bomb out a world is not possible; you’d need to step into the target world for that.

These limitations make the central world a natural chokepoint. Whoever can block it up and make it unsafe to travel through can, in so doing, control every bit of multiversal transportation to go on. So, several millennia ago, an evil queen who stole all the previously-free-floating magic from her homeworld in order to make herself inherently magical to a ridiculously overpowered degree walked into the central world, displaced the trade consortium which had previously been using the place, and turned the world into a hub from which to systematically conquer the multiverse, eventually with the help of her descendants, who she imbued with a small echo of her own magical power. At first, the conquests were performed chiefly through her own overpowered magic; but eventually she started needing to stay in the central world full-time to keep it secure from counter-invasion by anyone in the multiverse who she’d made an enemy of, and so the conquests started falling to her magically-empowered descendants and the dozens of worlds’ resources they could bring to bear against each individual world they attacked.

So this faction, ruled by the evil queen, started invading another world. This particular world’s local magic took two forms: various magical creatures and materials around the place, and humans being able to magically bind things together, keeping the basic shape of one but with significant influence leaking through from the other. This could be used, for example, to merge oneself with a magical creature (gaining access to that creature’s abilities, at the cost of mental scrambling and value drift since one’s mind will be merged with its as well), or to merge a sword with a magical stone to imbue the sword with the stone’s magical properties, or the like. And they used this to fight back against the invading forces, but they were pretty horribly outmatched, and within a few years practically the whole planet had been conquered.

There was a particular kind of magical creature, local to a relatively small region of the world, which could emit a magical effect which, would, if other creatures were exposed to it for an extended time, hijack control of their bodies and minds, as well as magically altering their forms for greater usefulness to tasks such as “help build hives” and “grab and immobilize further creatures for me to turn into my minions”. These creatures weren’t too dangerous to humans generally, since they needed days of blasting magic at something before they got control of it and that required reasonably direct line of effect, but once in a while there would be an incident of one sneaking into somebody’s house, hiding there for a few weeks slowly building up control, and eventually turning them into a warped monster before getting discovered and killed off by the rest of the locals; so it was known that they were capable of dangerousness to humans.

So one particular group in that region decided, in a last-ditch effort to toss the invaders out, to attempt the following scheme: first, one of their members would bind a creature of this sort to themselves. Second, they would bind themselves to the sun, keeping its physical form but retaining their newly-gained magical powers “convert creatures towards which I’ve got reasonably direct line of effect into my minions”. Third, they would grab control of all the invaders they could and force them to either leave or kill each other.

It was a well-intentioned plan, and they even made token efforts towards ensuring that the value-drift issue wouldn’t get in the way (picking the most genuinely altruistic person they could find, and spending a day talking to her after she’d bound herself to the controls-other-creatures creature to make sure she was still herself before she bound herself to the sun), but they weren’t nearly as safety-conscious as they should have been (because their area was in the process of being invaded and they were afraid that, if they took any more time, they’d be caught themselves), and things went wrong as a result. In fact the merger had shifted her priorities, and while she still in some sense was altruistic, her priority had shifted from “help everyone attain happiness and flourishing” to specifically helping creatures she’d taken control of, and even there the goal was less anything resembling the sort of flourishing valued by humans and more about building gigantic elaborate hives to live in and acquiring more creatures for her to take control of.

So, about a week after that, people all over the world (especially in the sunny parts of it) started turning into monsters, grabbing other people, dragging them into sunny regions, and generally rapidly spreading into an out-of-control monstrous force. This successfully repelled the invaders, but it also turned the vast majority of the world’s population into puppets of the sun who were hostile to all life on the planet which didn’t want to become puppets of the sun. Societal collapse ensued.

A bunch of the invaders were caught in the initial wave of people-turning-into-sun-monsters, but overall as a force they were relatively unaffected, because unlike the rest of the world they had access to good global-scale communications and were able to respond to the first few incidents with a general call to retreat from the planet back to the central world. So most of them withdrew at that point. However, a sizable sub-fraction instead went “actually, no, we may have been invading this world but that doesn’t mean we’re okay just leaving all these people to suffer a literal planet-scale apocalypse, we’re going to stay and help”. And so they did. They helped hordes of refugees pile into caves, closed the caves off so that the sun-monsters couldn’t get in, and generally did a lot to help people make it through the disaster. Other bunches of humans did similar things on their own, without assistance from the ex-invaders, albeit with more difficulty.

Over the next few hundred years, most of the entirely-non-magic-assisted groups of humans belowground died off, because getting food without safe access to sunlight turns out to be really hard. But many groups had help from the ex-invader magical girls and their descendants, and many others managed to bind themselves to some variety of magical underground life in order to increase their chances of survival, and things more-or-less stabilized.

Cut to a few thousand years later. The magical girl who was leading of one of the underground civilizations decided to make an attempt at returning to the surface, as various civilizations occasionally did. Historically, those efforts tended to fail within a few weeks, with the sun-monsters coming down, dismantling whatever sun-protective architecture the aboveground group was using, and proceeding to do their best to get into the underground region the people had come from and grab everyone from there as well. But this one went differently, for two reasons. First, this particular civilization had an exceptionally high population of magical girls, and so was particularly well-equipped to drive off sun-monster incursions. Second, their leader, in specific, had magical power over clouds, and so was able to, instead of relying on protective architecture, set up a layer of eternally-present protective cloud-cover overhead.

So they were able to return aboveground. Once they were stably established there, their leader proceeded to start slowly expanding the layer of cloud cover, using an array of artifacts to bolster her ability to do so since her personal magical ability wasn’t enough to keep things up at that scale. She systematically made contact with every underground civilization whose cave she’d cloud-covered over and told them “hey, it’s safe to come back aboveground now”, and built her small civilization up into a full-on kingdom.

Such is the state of things in the current era. She’s been ruling for about seventy years now, during which the cloud cover has continually expanded, albeit increasingly slowly. As the borders have expanded, it’s become increasingly difficult to keep the place thoroughly defended from sun-monster incursions, but it’s nonetheless done well enough that they only do significant damage once in a while, not regularly. Additionally, sometimes the underground civilizations they discover have had sufficient binding-induced value drift over the course of their survival efforts that their populations aren’t able to get along well with the less-value-drifted humans; they tend to get magically sealed into their caves to continue living in isolation from the aboveground kingdom, but sometimes that fails for one reason or another and a crisis results. This is the status quo when the plot begins.

For this world, unlike the teleportation one, I’ve got a pretty robust plot worked out; I just need to figure out enough character details to be able to write it. To briefly summarize its premise, the plot involves the princess of one of the sealed-for-excessive-value-drift dungeons sneaking out, meeting up with the princess of the aboveground kingdom (daughter of the person who does the cloud-cover stuff), and going “hey, actually we’d be totally able to peacefully be part of human society, sure we devour people’s emotions but we don’t do it in an antisocial way”, and the two of them becoming friends (and eventually girlfriends), fixing the various broken parts of the world both within and outside of the cloud kingdom, and generally having adventures together. I plan them to start out going up against relatively small-scale antagonists, like other local magic-users, but eventually needing to go up against larger-scale threats, including the sun and its forces and, past even that, the multiversal empire whose attempted conquest kicked off this whole sequence of events.


Tags:

#storytime #story ideas I will never write #(kind of on the border between those category tags) #apocalypse cw #long post

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