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Nobilis Elegant Discussion Thread, v11.0

Jenna Moran

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So a morality question I've always had about Nobils. Consider these three scenarios:

1) Amicus, the Power of Friends, worries that the Aaron's Serpent known as Chuubo is lonely, and in danger of befriending the Excrucians. He uses a Lesser Creation of Friends to make a friend for the giant snake.

2) Iolithae sees a lonely Aaron's Serpent, and fears he may spoil her plans unless distracted. "You're busy with your friend," she tells Chuubo, and thus it is.

3) The Actual Seizhi Schwan (created by a hubristic wish) has to go on a trip, and is worried that his friend will get lonely, so he finds a random person. "You are Seizhi Schwan and will spend time with your friend Chuubo," he says to that person, and verily, it happens.

My understanding is that the universe regards act number 1 as normal, number 2 as wrong, and number 3 as a blesphemy to Creation. Is that the case? Is there a difference between the three? Or is it propoganda?
Hm!

Certainly the universe doesn't mind Actuals. It might object to Seizhi Schwan being/becoming a person, but it does not object to him infecting a greater portion of the prosaic and mythic world; in fact, that can be considered one of its error-correcting mechanisms, like a metaphorical scab.

We come, though, to the question of what objects to Iolithae?

That gets really tricky because when I dug under the surface to figure out what was going on with the Deceivers it turns out a lot of them come straight from the world. Not the Lands Beyond it. Iolithae Septimian may have been infected by something from Outside. She may be an incarnation of a nameless force that dwells beyond the stars---but her origin story, right down to the claim that she exists to redress the Imperial impulse to nail things down too tightly, could be a basically correct thing. And then what we really get is that the lies of Iolithae Septimian are sacred, and yet you must not let her speak, not because of some cosmic principle, but because, look, people have millennia of experience with her, and what they've passed on is, she is sacred, she is holy, for the love of all you hold dear do not let her speak.

Which is not really the universe objecting except insofar as many of those who passed those warnings on represented rather large metaphysical chunks of the universe.

What's certainly true is that "the Lies of Iolithae Septimian" exists in a kind of isolation from the world, behind a membrane of a sort, in a way that other Estates, that Noble/Imperial Estates, basically don't. It isn't a part of the scheme of things, and when she fissions off a bit of it to make it part of the scheme of things, she's doing a more profound operation than when someone changes things from within.

It's like if you're working on a collaborative group analysis of comparative fleece growth rates in sheep exposed to different magical formulae---it's one thing if someone in the group tweaks the paper, or changes a diagram, and another thing if some random shepherd girl from Guttenberg breaks into the lab and does it, even if her ideas are rigorous and well-thought-out.

Conversely, I suppose you could say that Seizhi Schwan doing it is kind of like Clippy doing it. If the universe were, like, MS Word. Does that make sense? That's why you can't say that the universe objects. It doesn't object! But you might.

Best wishes,

Jenna
it looks like you're criticizing Leonardo's Abhorrent Sheep-Motivating Prescription. Would you like help?
 
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You can never be fully sure if an Excrucian is completely, absolutely in the wrong!


Iolithae Septimian
did you know that magical sheep dream of steam-powered mad scientists?
 

Baffle Mint

Eastern Bloc Robot Cowboy
Validated User
So a morality question I've always had about Nobils. Consider these three scenarios:

1) Amicus, the Power of Friends, worries that the Aaron's Serpent known as Chuubo is lonely, and in danger of befriending the Excrucians. He uses a Lesser Creation of Friends to make a friend for the giant snake.

2) Iolithae sees a lonely Aaron's Serpent, and fears he may spoil her plans unless distracted. "You're busy with your friend," she tells Chuubo, and thus it is.

3) The Actual Seizhi Schwan (created by a hubristic wish) has to go on a trip, and is worried that his friend will get lonely, so he finds a random person. "You are Seizhi Schwan and will spend time with your friend Chuubo," he says to that person, and verily, it happens.

My understanding is that the universe regards act number 1 as normal, number 2 as wrong (Edit: though obviously, you can never be fully sure if an Excrucian is completely, absolutely in the wrong!), and number 3 as a blesphemy to Creation. Is that the case? Is there a difference between the three? Or is it propoganda?
If I say that only the results of the action matter, does that make me a Warmain?
 

Snoof

Time-Travelling Layabout
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If I say that only the results of the action matter, does that make me a Warmain?
Or a Lightlord.

(I know, "What must be done ought to be done cleanly", but I always got a serious "the end justifies the means" vibe off them.)
 
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Heaven Canceler

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Honestly, I don't think fire needs oxygen to burn, really. That's a very... ordinary world kind of explanation, you know? It's true you get some 'implicit' Properties. Like, if you're the power of Frogs you can use an Enchantment to turn someone into a frog, even though "Frogs are frogs" is not one of your Estate Properties. Only P-states need weird redundant Properties like that.

Well, from what I get the "ordinary" and "mundane" explanations are generally true, but they aren't always true for the same reason as they think. Like, in one short there is a guy asking his car why it deals with having to drive him around since he knows it is intelligent and could just leave. And the car basically answers that it could just drive away, but it accepts its lot in life for the sake of getting better service, better treatment and repairs etc.... So to give a potential example, fire is a spirit and the spirit needs to breathe oxygen to support its body just like we or maybe it eats air spirits to survive or something even weirder? But its body is made up of a specific energy/reaction and thus, if there is no oxygen to eat/breath and it dies, its entire body vanishes.


I mean, as far as I understand, you can Enchant/Enspell/Enmiracle with the entirety of an Estate, all things that are part of it, not just the big P Properties. Like, the power of Owls could have Properties concentrating on how Owls embody wisdom and magic and being companions to the gods, but it could still enchant someone to be able to see in the dark, to fly silently or to I dunno, spit out these bone-balls owls make. The Power of Cats can make you always fall on your legs or have you purr like a cat when you are happy. I guess the main thing about Properties is that they allow you to do things that your Estate does metaphorically or let you reach beyond what should normally be possible like a Property ala "Money can buy anything, for the right price." which would allow you to buy things that you really shouldn't be capable of buying logically speaking.



Heh. I made a Power of Stars once. I eventually decided -


* There is only one Sun, and she lights up all the worlds of the Ash
* Stars are 'painted' on the Weirding Wall, though they are of course also spirits that dance a long and stately course through the sky.


But that was the interpretation I went with for that character. I think there are a couple of lines in the book that back up the first point,* but the second was 100% personal taste. Another valid thought is that stars are distant worlds on the Ash, viewed through the lens of the Ordinary World.


It's not really defined in the book, so it's going to vary from table to table. Most of the time, of course, it's not really going to come up.


*e.g page 86: "Where one day if the Sun is slain by Excrucian hands, the fire that lights their world will die, and they never to know the truth of why, or even really understand what they had lost."

That does put up an interesting question. Assuming someone steals the sun like seems to happen from time to time. The Noble of the Sun sees that and panics. Maybe they are new to the job and have no clue that this is something that isn't gonna do permanent harm. Maybe they have been stressed a lot recently.



They see the lack of a Sun and know that they need to fix this.


So they do a Greater Creation of Suns to make a new Sun.


How would you have resolved this? Would it have made a spirit of the sun to take the place for the Imperator until he/she comes back? Would it basically be like an extension of the Imperator's body? Are Lesser Creations ala miniature suns also part of the Imperator's body then? Would it just fail with an explosion into the face of the guy? Would it end with a big bag of Hubris and the Noble Creating a Second Imperator of the Sun who proceeds to start an war with your own Imperator over who deserves to be the real one....



And why the heck does the sun shine on every world.... I mean, I sort of expected some of them to have giant lava lamps as their equivalent of suns. Or even giant dark holes (That obviously don't work like we think dark holes do because of different local physics.) because the beings on it live off of darkness instead of light or may not have eyes at all.



In fact, you said not even the Imperators know of every branch and world on the Ash. So how can the sun shine on every world while still not knowing of some worlds?
 

Skycroft

Space Wizard
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So to give a potential example, fire is a spirit and the spirit needs to breathe oxygen to support its body just like we or maybe it eats air spirits to survive or something even weirder? But its body is made up of a specific energy/reaction and thus, if there is no oxygen to eat/breath and it dies, its entire body vanishes.
*shrugs*

Maybe. I prefer to think of it as just being that fire needs air for whatever reason. Getting too deep into the nitty gritty like this is unhelpful, I think. Nobilis demands an animistic outlook, not a mechanistic outlook.

I mean, as far as I understand, you can Enchant/Enspell/Enmiracle with the entirety of an Estate, all things that are part of it, not just the big P Properties.
To some extent, but allowing that unconditionally will rapidly lead to some Estates overwhelming others in play. Stick to Properties, physical elements, and obvious abstract elements. Once you start allowing too much, you will start seeing imbalance.

Properties don't exist to let you reach beyond what is normally possible, they exist to delineate and define what your Estate is. Thus even when you are not applying Properties with Enchantments you should still apply the elements of that particular form of your Estate that is defined by the Properties you have designed, not just anything that could theoretically be considered an element of [Estate's Name]*. This is particularly important, of course, for abstract Estates. But for Persona it's even important for concrete Estates.

*Multiple Estates can have the same name, after all. Entropy and Za'afiel are both Destruction.

How would you have resolved this?
Sometimes there's a thing that's different from her. Someone stole the sun from the sky, then the Power of the Sun used a Greater Creation to replace it, that's not a huge deal. Someone kidnapped Jade Irinka, Angel of the Houses of the Sun - that's not going to be solved with a mere Greater Creation. Maybe it can create a temporary replacement ball of light while we work out how to rescue her, though.

If you want a more game-mechanical explanation... one of the ways in which Jade Irinka might take a Wound to mitigate a miracle that tries to destroy or steal her is exactly to say that what was destroyed/stolen was not her but rather her mansion or her chariot or whatever. Even if I'm not going to the bother of tracking the Wounds of every possible Imperator or spirit you try to affect with a miracle - which I'm certainly not, that way lies only madness - I would assume that if you steal the sun from the sky you are not trying to kidnap an Angel unless you say otherwise.

That's why I said this sort of thing depends on context, and that that context can shift even within the same game.

And why the heck does the sun shine on every world.... I mean, I sort of expected some of them to have giant lava lamps as their equivalent of suns. Or even giant dark holes (That obviously don't work like we think dark holes do because of different local physics.) because the beings on it live off of darkness instead of light or may not have eyes at all.

In fact, you said not even the Imperators know of every branch and world on the Ash. So how can the sun shine on every world while still not knowing of some worlds?
It's my personal headcanon. If yours is different, knock yourself out.

For what its worth, I think that while she lights up all the Ash, some worlds are hidden or shaded by branches of the Ash and so on, and have other light sources or perhaps know nothing of light at all.

And even if she shone on every world, does that mean that she should know them all? Do you know every single consequence of every single action you take? Can you follow every trail of effect from the causes you bring? Can anyone really know the full extent of the impact they bring upon the world?

"They illumine and they darken all, but they do not see every manifestation of that shadow and that light." Page 86.
 

Heaven Canceler

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*Multiple Estates can have the same name, after all. Entropy and Za'afiel are both Destruction.
I thought that was because Heaven uses a different magically expressive language and english has no single word for "Absolute Destruction that Leaves no Chance for something New To be Made" and "Destruction as the Cycle of Life and Death".

There is also the thing with Estate Properties actually changing under the right circumstances. Like, if one Power dies and another takes over, then you can end up with the next guy having entirely different Properties from before. Does that mean the Estate totally changes its nature every time that happens? Like for example if one Power of Death goes all "Don't Fear the Reaper" and the next then goes "I am getting them, all of them!" with their Properties.

Another possibility I guess is that everyone lies about their Estate's "real" name. Like that guy who in the book is called the Power of Chaos but in actuallity had abilities that would honestly make more sense with the Power of Natural Disasters if I remember right. Maybe Entropy is actually the Imperator of Annihilation but he dislikes the word for some reason. Or maybe he just says Destruction because it annoys the Angels.
 

Skycroft

Space Wizard
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Validated User
I thought that was because Heaven uses a different magically expressive language and english has no single word for "Absolute Destruction that Leaves no Chance for something New To be Made" and "Destruction as the Cycle of Life and Death".
I don't know if Heaven has a magically expressive language or not, but the fact that multiple Estates can have the same name has nothing to do with that and even nothing really to do with Nobilis. Languages are imprecise, ambiguous, and vague. That's just true, not merely true in the game but, you know, actually true.

So if you are playing the Power of [Estate], it's not just enough to name [Estate] you also have to explain at least in broad terms what you mean when you say [Estate], and that's the main thing that Properties are for. For more concrete Estates like Cars it's generally OK to be loose and stretch the meaning of the word quite a bit, but the for more abstract Estates like Love or whatever it's important to narrow it down and expand the edges of the meaning only cautiously in play.

In any case for Enchantments, my point is that even when your not applying literal Properties to things, it's the particular cluster of, uh, stuff picked out by that set of Properties that you can apply elements of to a thing, not just anything you could theoretically consider an element of that Estate.

And yes, different Powers have different views of the same Estate and thus will work slightly different miracles from it, and even the same Power views of their Estate can evolve over time.*

*Though often enough when you alter Properties at the end of a Story it's less reflecting that your character's views have evolved and more purely OOC - Player:"Hey this set of Properties isn't quite working out for me, is it OK if I tweak it a little?" HG: "Sure." But it can also represent that your character's views have evolved just as well.
 
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