The Dailies. March 16

The Dailies. March 16

Did you work on your language today? Create any new rules of grammar or syntax? New progress on a script? New words in your lexicon?

On the other hand, do any excavating or reading or enjoying stuff you’ve already created? Do you have any favorites to share?

How did you conlang today?


9 thoughts on “The Dailies. March 16

  1. maṙfanne, “city-heart”.

    City-hearts are a unique feature of most large settlements in Ailhaotnůṙ, which rely on the specific nature of magic in it. They serve both civic and military purposes, but the military purpose is original.

    The circumstances which surround them are thus: magical energy has both passive and active states. Passive magic flows through all things and its interactions to some extent define the way the world works. Active magic warps and alters the shape, speed, and aspect of passive magic around it, and can be used to create effects its wielder finds advantageous. If there is not much passive magic around, or if the currents it is in are particularly strong, much more active magic is needed to achieve a given effect.

    So, a particularly common ritual is to create a magical furnace that consumes large amounts of passive magic and converts it into heat and light, as well as focusing it into conduits for further tapping, to enable yet more uses. Thus, a city large enough to have a sizable population of ritualists can control the magical field surrounding itself, concentrating available magic in controlled locations, such as spell-towers, alchemical labs, and automata workshops.

    City-hearts are conventionally built underground, beneath keeps or similarly defensible locations, and flumes are constructed which bring cool air from the surface to the heart and hot air to the city, where it can be used for various puposes. Close enough to the heart, the air coming from such vents is hot enough to bake or boil water with, but farther out it is only suitable for interior heating.

    City-hearts represent a major change in the flow of magic through an area, and thus have some wide-ranging effects, but, while they may be somewhat inconvenient, are not enough to dissuade their use, and in some cases are beneficial. The strong magical currents warp the flow of nearby rivers, which can cause initial flooding but after some years new channels will form and the rivers will stabilize, and a permanent low-pressure region is created in the air above the city, which causes constant mild-to-moderate winds to blow into the city from all directions, but this isn’t too bad because it means that the air in the city is much fresher than it would be otherwise. Nearby storms are drawn toward the city, but once over top of it, their intensity is siphoned away, delivering at the most a heavy but brief shower.

    The heart chamber itself is rather like a kiln, and is conventionally surrounded by a thick masonry wall with observation windows fashioned from very thick, dark crystals or obsidian, with a small complex surrounding it for the use of the dozen or so ritualists charged with maintaining the heart.

    City-hearts are sometimes employed in places that aren’t cities, like major religious sites, but they take at least an Earth year to set up, counting both conventional and magical labor, so they are only practical for permanent settlements. However, they may not be built too close to each other, or the larger City-heart will starve the smaller one, disrupting it, despite any efforts of the ritualists maintaining it. If they are close to the same strength, then both will be weakened, and may even die.

    …wow, that was a lot of worldbuilding. And this is the condensed version! My first description was far longer. I could have given a smaller description, but that wouldn’t have been able to convey the degree of cultural significance that they have.

    1. Most of human civilization in my conworld is theocratic, so magic users probably get more common the more noble the family. However, the people actually employed as ritualists by cities will be essentially like craftspeople; necessary to the survival of a settlement and afforded some privilege and protection, but not really “in charge”.

      For the hearts of temples, the dynamic would be different. I imagine that the for more monastic (is that the right word?) temples, nearly everyone able would take part in the maintenance of the rituals used around the temple (of which the heart would be the largest, but not necessarily the most important).

      I haven’t quite gotten so far into how the religion actually works yet, I’m currently focusing on the less human aspects of magic, but I imagine that most independent temples would be essentially communes of monks. Temples inside cities would not have as much dedicated staffing and would rely on the city for protection.

      One thing that is decided, though I don’t think I’ve really mentioned it here, is that the religion is divided into two broad types: the dominant one holds Ailistif, the Formless Maker, supreme and the Aspects subservient. But there are also the “Aspect-cults”, which worship particular Aspects independently, and they’re not quite santioned by the priesthood, but because Aspects preferentially bless those that follow them, and those who are so blessed are more likely to be thankful to the Aspects and to join their cults, the cults serve an important role as being congregations of magic-users.

      I’m not exactly certain what my influences were with this dual mono/polytheistic split religion wherein both sides recognize that the other has some legitimacy. It’s been a few years since my earliest drafts.

      For the record, Blue magic is what is used to construct permanent ritual effects, so temples of the Blue Aspect’s cult will be most likely to have hearts, even in small temples. Other temples would need to be significantly larger to have enough people who can maintain them, and for somewhat complicated reasons Green and Purple temples almost certainly would not have hearts. (In summary: Green and Purple magic warp magic around them most strongly of any type of magic, and for anyone with the Gift of either Green or Purple, disrupting a carefully constructed ritual is almost the easiest thing they can do, magically speaking. However, those two Aspects give their blessings very rarely and their cults are mostly formed of unblessed people.

      This is not to say that a single person with the Gift of the Empowered Cripple could simply walk up to a city and with the slightest effort bring all of their rituals crashing down. Once a ritual has been initiated, it is quite stable. It’s just that it’s difficult to start them in the presence of concentrations of volatile Green or willful Purple magic, and that the cost of maintaining them would increase dramatically if they were magically sieged. So if you know that you’ll have to deal with that a lot even when everything is normal, making and maintaining a city-heart just isn’t worthwhile. City-hearts are merely the most efficient method of doing what they do, not the only one.

      Sorry for the massive amount of text (I shouldn’t write at 3 AM, I tend not to stop), but I hope you at least find it interesting.

      1. Absorbing! And very impressive.

        So would the placement of new city-hearts be decided by monks in consultation with city authorities, and then left to ritualists to actually carry out?

        1. I’d think it’s more like monks or city authorities. In independent temples (which are not part of any city and are usually in remote locations) it would be just the monks, while in cities it would be just the rulers. The rulers may happen to be magic users, but they wouldn’t be monks.

            1. Sorry for taking like 2 days to get back to this! And also sorry for the great length of this comment, like many of my others.

              It’s not an especially elaborate or complex thing, to decide where it should be placed. You don’t have to, like, consult ley lines or something. (I don’t believe Ailhaotnůṙ has ley lines.) And to the extent that the flow of magic matters, the heart will draw those flows into itself naturally.

              Really the most significant constraint on it is that it produces a massive amount of heat, which must be managed properly. So a chamber must be constructed to withstand that energy output, basically a massive kiln. That’s a purely mundane engineering problem, so ordinary engineers can solve it.

              Basically, the idea is this: Ritual magic is largely unconstrained by scale. Rituals may be constructed to last mere hours and produce effects over a region the size of a single room, or may be constructed to apply the same effects indefinitely over an entire region. The main limiter is that you need more and more people to do the shaping: temporary small rituals can be performed by a single person, while a blessing of fertility over an entire river valley would require a full staff of several shifts working in several locations, and slight perturbations become magnified if left unchecked. In the small scale, a perturbations are simply managed, or if the spell is meant to be temporary, they can simply be allowed to disrupt the spell after a few hours.

              The City-Heart ritual is a massively scaled up version of the “torch” ritual, which works as follows: local energy is redirected into a small vortex of red-aspected magic, and fed through it in such a way that most of its energy is sapped into said vortex. The vortex is quite stable, but its capacity to store energy is limited, so any excess is converted into mundane energy, namely, heat and light. It happens to be one of the most stable rituals, especially when the ratio of stability to energy use is taken into account. (Real fires actually have concentrations of Red magic inside them, but it is not in such an organized form.)

              Notably, given the proper circumstances, a very similar ritual can be performed with Grey magic, that requires only a small bit of Red magic. However, the art of Geomancy (the fine control of Grey magic) is unheard of outside the Sůṙjafia, which if you don’t recall are beings made by the Grey Aspect itself out of stone. (Basically, the Grey Aspect got the easiest and most boring job of all: be the rocks that make up the land. So it created some semi-mortal beings inspired by those that the Red Aspect made.)

              So, once upon a time, someone realized that a very large “torch” ritual could be used to siphon away massive amounts of free magic in an area, with a comparably small amount of mainenance, and in only a single location. The military potential was immediately recognized, but so was the practical matter that the heat produced ought to be used for something. Hence, permanent settlements constructed large underground chambers with flumes leading to the surface, and rather than waste the heat, it was repurposed for civil purposes.

              Very little useful magical energy actually flows out of the torch, most of it in the form of a rising plume of Blue and Black energy. So, since cities have use for free magical energy, a separate ritual, “siphon”, is used to ta into the magic flowing into the torch and direct it into a network of conduits which can be used as described in my first post.

              That is to say, as long as you don’t try to make a torch so large it burns through its fuel (not all areas have the same amount of free magic flowing through them), it’s such a simple ritual that it’ll pretty much always work.

              Also, I don’t think I mentioned this yet, but in my current understanding of the cosmology, this same effect is what creates the stars in the sky. It’s not exactly a “ritual” because there’s noone to maintain it. It’s sort of a perfected, completely self-sustaining, cyclical, and astronomically larger version created by the Formless Maker, woven into the Fundamental Spell of the world itself. Which brings me to the question every child asks:

              “Why do the stars shine?”

              “Because the Formless Maker wished to marvel at their beauty.”

              Which I can’t help but translate into Firen. So:

              “Sůffůtifse heleske gůčudabo?”

              “Ailistifki detollituf kovola kůnommasamudodu.”

              Now, technically speaking, that actually says “What causes the stars to be shining?” “That the Quintessential Spirit would want-see their great beauty.” I’m not sure if I should analyze the response as a fragment, of if main verbs in Firen are actually allowed to be subjunctive (in which use it would, I suppose, essentially be optative). I’d need a much larger corpus to determine that much of the grammar, and I’ve been rather slow at growing it.

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