Starting a Bunny: Leatherbound

Note, this idea is still in the “poking around” stage, though I have main characters and the bare bones of a setting settled on. So anything here is subject to change!

First, magic is, in game terms, Int+Perception based – you have to be smart, and you have to be able to sense the flow of the spell/equations.

The source of magic is the ambient energy of the universe, channeled by a sorcerer’s innate power and knowledge of spellcasting. “Places of power” do exist; ley lines/weak spots in reality that more power can be drawn from, but Things can also leak through. Some are obvious – monuments, Stonehenge, etc. Others… not so much. Airports, train and bus terminals, docks, dryers…. (Makes you wonder about the cat curling up on top of a warm dryer!)

Spirits and Other Entities can inflict both blessings and curses. Curses are definitely preferable; you never know what might be asked for a blessing.

Bunnies say, all humans are theoretically capable of spellcasting. But you either need extensive training and willpower (for educated sorcerers) to start distorting reality… or you need the “dumb luck” of being cursed. Up until relatively recently (past two centuries) all magic was passed along by oral/family traditions and “book learning”. Organized schools like Cerulean University are new. Educated sorcerers need training to sense magical items and changes in ambient energy; cursed sorcerers need teaching to figure out what the heck they’re now sensing.

Symbols and glyphs, instead of words, are the main means to shape reality. If a spell has an incantation, the words and gestures in it are meant to represent those glyphs and their alterations in reality. A properly done enchanted object probably has glyphs done on top of previous glyphs, with the end result creating the active spell.

Symbols and glyphs can currently be captured in images, but not yet “run” on a computer.

A knowledge of ancient languages does give you an advantage studying old spellbooks and inscriptions that describe reality-warping, but you don’t need to know any specific language to spellcast.

Hand-to-hand training can be useful for more than just self-defense. It teaches you where you are in space, and that makes any spell-gestures (to invoke glyph shapes) much more effective – footing, hand placement, even breath control!

Currently poking the idea that part of getting magical writing down/making a spellbook does include specific inks and materials. A thought the bunnies had is that casting any specific spell might well require adapting it to your own “style” – including the magical influence of your curse, if any. Both of these would mean that spellbooks are not cheap, and imply that there might be a market for people who create single spell sheets for any individual person. And they’d make the study of how magic works vital to anyone who wants to advance their own magic.

The better you know physical reality, the better you can affect it. If you want to cast water spells, learn hydrodynamics, water-based ecology, etc.

Hawthorn is a symbol of bad luck, curses, and cleansing. There are plenty of hawthorns planted in the “other” side of Cerulean University. Holly, OTOH, is a symbol of good luck and blessings; the berries can only be brought on campus with permission, and any holly found growing on campus will be eliminated. With prejudice.

Given the habits of students, instructors are used to shaking any dormitories down for brewing Egyptian paut.

Finally, given that magic involves distorting reality…. “A sorcerer living on a volcano is Asking For It.”

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60 thoughts on “Starting a Bunny: Leatherbound

      1. Oh dear. I have the sudden image of collage students brewing questionable things under the bathroom sink.

        And I can think of worse stuff to mix questionable brews with by virtue of living in a tech and military heavy area. Well that and a very well used library card that also grants access to a long list databases.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. So, ‘Blessings’ tend to be considered with about as much horror as Interesting Times. See also, Blessed With Suck. Curses, on the other hand, have a better chance of Cursed With Awesome.

    And I finally have an idea about where all my socks have gone.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes. Exactly. Socks, underwear, warm hats….

      As for preferring curses…. For just one example, Genjyo Sanzo enjoys the blessings of Heaven. Heaven’s stuck him with three idiots, a probably lethal quest, and divine power that makes him the target of every ill-intentioned creature on the planet.

      …Blessed With Suck, indeed.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Quite. It’s rather easy to see why Sanzo is rather grumpy and fast on the draw.

        And tells anyone who tries to tell him that Heaven only gives us that which we can handle that he would like to be considered less capable, thank you. After he shot them. Spend one day living his life and then you can talk about how not-terrible Heaven’s Blessing is . . .

        Random Side Thought: Genjyo Sanzo and Hiko Seijirou in the same room. Awesome? Or would the resulting sacrams tear a hole in reality? Would they bond over their trials and tribulations dealing with their respective children – while Kenshin is quieter than Goku, I think it can be argued that otherwise he is a darn monkey too.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. If suffering brings you closer to holiness, then he’ll provide the bullet wounds so you can really suffer. 😉

        Huh. Those two in the same room would not tear reality, because Kanzeon would tape it back together after laughing hirself sick.

        Goku and Kenshin in the same room… I think I need a nice, safe bunker….

        Liked by 4 people

      3. Goku: “Let me do something crazy that looks like I’m going to get myself killed if I were a normal person!”
        Kenshin: “Ah… This one would like it very much if you did not, that he would.”

        Liked by 5 people

    2. Classic Catholic theologically speaking, simplified, that’s why you don’t cast spells. They’re asking Something for a favor, and there’s only one that does ’em without charging you, and even He tends to do them for more than one reason.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. …and now I have a mental image of Jesus in full flipping-the-tables-and-chasing-people-with-a-whip mode, yelling:
        “FOR THE LOVE OF ME, JUST ASK! Quit trying to control MY angels, threaten MY saints, or manipulate me!

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Given the habits of students, instructors are used to shaking any dormitories down for brewing Egyptian paut.

    Probably not the only thing the instructors have to keep their eyes open for. Not to mention that sometimes students can get . . . creative . . . with things and create whole things that create new and yet still problems for their elders. And likely anyone else who was unlucky to be in range.

    Given their tendency to attract Murphy, it wouldn’t surprise me if Cerulean University does not have any close neighbors. Or people might given known magic users and their homes a wide berth. So when Murphy strikes, they – the neighbors – will hopefully not get caught up in it.

    Some people will probably think you as being mildly to not so mildly insane for associating too closely with magic users, especially if you yourself aren’t one. Like “Only sorcerers and idiots hang out with sorcerers.”

    Insurance companies probably have a field day with magic user policy holders. If they don’t outright refuse to cover them. Maybe they have their own separate insurance. So the average home’s list of insurance in that world is homeowners, fire, flood, and magic.

    “A sorcerer living on a volcano is Asking For It.”

    A fault line probably aren’t much better.

    Or sink hole prone regions.

    OTHER THOUGHTS

    Sounds like this setting could have its own counterpart to Sunnydale.

    Can see how asking for blessings can be tricky. At best. If you are lucky, you might get an entity like Kanzeon (so?) answering you. Someone who might be insane and might stick you with a dangerous quest involving monkeys and idiots but is overall pretty reasonable.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I now have the image of a rather packed community discovering that there’s a Sorcerer in the neighborhood, oh crap, where is he, somethings going to blow up-!

      Cue panicked digging, relocation, and yes, something blowing up- they find three, who had been there for a long time (You never asked), and signs of a fourth.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Ah. I neglected to mention that this is a Sunnydale Syndrome/Weirdness Censor world. 😉 Sorcerers? For real? Naaah, you gotta be kidding me, that was just a freak windstorm….

      Meaning the poor apprentice PI thrown in the middle of this had no idea what his PI mentor Saul likes to get up to in his spare time.

      Cerulean University is actually in an extradimensional space, on the “other side of the stacks” from a very conventional university. (Need a name for it – The University of Torago comes to mind, for anyone who’s a Highlander fanfic reader.) And yes, magical students attend both sides.

      I’m not sure about insurance companies. It’d be interesting if some of them have suspicions. I wonder if that’s how Saul lands some of his PI work.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Said poor PI is also probably alternatively amazed and dismayed by the mental gymnastics done to explain away magic. And terrified. Because some of the stuff that Sunnydale Symdrome has managed to get people to overlook and ignore? Scary.

        It’d be interesting if some of them have suspicions. I wonder if that’s how Saul lands some of his PI work.

        Some of Insurance company employees, some police and other rescue people, enough otherwise people who have seen or experienced enough to have become suspicious (and overcome their Sunnydale Syndrome) to keep him happily busy.

        Probably also have conspiracy theory websites out there that no one believes – like sure, Steve, there is another university hidden with secret space within the university grounds that teaches magic, whatever you say. The conspiracy comes in because people like said Steve are convinced that the magic users and stuff are making the Weirdness Censor on purpose.

        Which might be interesting if that was both true and not true.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Very likely terrified once he has a chance to breathe. That could take a bit. He has a… problem… after thwarting a kitsune.

        (It actually looks like several problems. The staff has never seen anything like this before.)

        He ends up in C.U.’s hospital. Yes, they have their own hospital, for very good reasons. He’s determined not to stay, though….

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I assume the kitsune did not enjoy being thwarted?

        He probably will have trouble with the leaving part. I can understand wanting to get out of there – you can only take so much weirdness and such at time. And if he has a problem that the staff hasn’t seen before, they are probably eager to poke and prod him. Just the thought that CU hospital might be used to patients attempting to sneak out before they are cleared for one reason or another.

        Would be just his luck to have that universe’s equalivant to Unohana or Gensai as his primary physician there? You know, an experienced and very good healer with only limited tolerance for their patients being idiots? And will tell you that you are being an idiot.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. They’re used to magical sneaking out. Lockpicks, maybe not so much….

        Hmm. I need to come up with the head medic. I do have the counselor rough-sketched as a character… yes, There Are Therapists.

        And no. The kitsune did not enjoy being thwarted at all. She hit him with the worst curse she knew!

        …That will have a lot of fallout. Poor guy.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. While I’ve not read it myself, if this world didn’t have an overlaying SEP field? It’d fit in with Girl Genius.

        Sparks, Jeagers, and their typical reality-breaking antics.

        Liked by 3 people

      6. Maryland Institute of Petroleum Engineering comes to mind, but that may be too much ‘damn yankees’ for your taste. (Once upon a time, I attempted to look at every school in Maryland to see if any offered a degree in said topic. Couldn’t find any, but may have been mistaken, certainly might be out of date.) Plus, to match Lovecraft canon, it would have to be founded in the early colonial period, and that is not how they named schools back then. Anyway, Virginia through Georgia or maybe California, Texas or Louisianna for range. The problem with the latter is that a Catholic religious school may not have the flavor you want.

        Liked by 3 people

      7. It’s your bunny. If you tell me something is x inspired, I won’t know what exact bits of x without being told or seeing final product.

        Guessing is an excuse to unleash my imagination, and sometimes outside guesses are useful.

        Is it young enough to be a land grant university?

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I had some questions about what kind of engineering/technical program, and whether it was a research school, or just a teaching school.

        Then I realized that a more basic question needed to be asked first. What is the overlap between the management of the magical and mundane schools, and what impact does that have on how the mundane school defines its mission? (If magical students are admitted on the mundane side, there is some overlap.) Does it chase research, prestige, sports, or education? (If in the south, how good is its football program?) Which raises questions about the long term goals of the magical cabal. ‘Keep things secret as long as possible’ or ‘prepare the world to know the things it is not yet ready for’? If former, you might want a school that does not do much mundane research, does not attract mundane researchers, and maybe has a sales pitch of disadvantaged or nontraditional students to cover folks. Maybe does not want the scrutiny of ABET accreditation for their technical program. On the other hand, faculty specializing in debunking. If the latter cabal agenda, you want to be going after that grant money, and pulling in the researchers to nudge things along in the right way.

        If it is Lovecraft done right, perhaps the school bills itself as a supportive environment for the psychologically fragile? (Like that couldn’t have unfortunate interactions with certain fads…)

        Liked by 2 people

      9. The magical school’s mission is “research magic, apply it, and try to keep our students – and any other poor cursed schmucks – alive long enough to learn it.” They don’t need to worry about “things the world is not ready for” much; the SEP field around magic takes care of most of that.

        As for the football team – they’re mundane students only. Sorcerers on the field is asking for trouble. Cursed sorcerers… well, stadium collapses are possible.

        (Don’t ask about the cheerleaders. They’re up to something.)

        Liked by 1 person

      10. The mundane school’s mission? How many of the mundane university’s presidents were in on the magic thing to some degree, and what did they do with the mundane school as a result?

        Liked by 2 people

      11. The mundane school’s mission is a nice, solid, well-rounded education, with some agricultural and engineering research and a minimum of explosions. Sometimes that works out better than others. And yes, the university presidents have all known about the crazier part of what happens on campus. So long as part of the crazy goes toward pranking other team’s mascots…. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds interesting, especially with the concept of “curses” being preferable over a “blessing”.

    I guess dryers being magical “hotspots” is nod to the “disappearing sock” trope? What about rotational energy/torque in and of itself? Torque/moment of inertia is interesting because of the way it acts in right angles to the applied rotations, leading to the kinds of tricks that can be done with gyroscopes.

    d What about high energy generators? Anne McCaffery’s “Pegasus in Flight”/The Rowan series about psychic abilities being made usefull as a whole to human society, and the follow on effects on civillization, had the concept of psychics being able to draw energy from power stations “tuned” to them to perform feats far beyond what purely human psychic potential was capable of. Like interstellar teleportation of mass cargo/people. I can’t remember if rotating generators/armatures/turbines were key, or if “solid state” power generation would suffice- I think McCafferey deliberately left that a bit vague.

    Certainly, things like waterfalls and hydroelectric dams have been used in stories with elemental magic as sites of magical potential.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. With curses, you at least know something’s out to get you. Blessings tend to come along with “This is for your own good, really….”

      (Along the lines of the most frightening words in the English language: “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”)

      Trope? You think disappearing socks are just a trope? My dozen mismatched pairs would like to disagree….

      And part of it may well be the rotational energy. There’s an interesting book on WW2 era experiments in antigravity, The Hunt for Zero Point.

      It has a lot of speculation on tapping the energy of the universe through spinning and rotation.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, that reminds me, an Author on SB, cg99, also known as “Charles Gray” has a few stories set in his “Mystic Galaxy”, in which humanity finds out that the galaxy is actually saturated with magic (and teeming with magical civilizations, after the period that Earth has been stuck in a “null magic” region ends with Aliens arriving on the planet via magical interstellar pathways. He has a few self-published kindle stories that take place a few hundred years after Contact, and had started working on the story regarding first contact on SB (https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/contact-1955.328914/). Humanity makes its mark by leveraging its “toolkit” that developed by virtue of the (magicless) industrial revolution, a feat practically unknown in the “known” galaxy

    the premise being, magical societies/civilizations never/hardly ever experience an industrial revolution, because magic is normally a “personal” power, and so tends to remain restricted in use to leverage power. Or more or less to that effect, my summary may be lacking in clarity.

    https://www.amazon.com/Charles-Gray/e/B00CK2PKKQ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Or not. You can download a free kindle app to any computer. I’ve got one on my desktop and on my tablet. Anything I buy gets downloaded to both.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If you have an android– phone or tablet– it’ll work on that.

        If you want a kindle, though, I’d suggest the tablets over the readers. Cheaper, at least with ads. ^.^

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh fun! Sounds like the place where the majority of the IT department are probably some shade of techromancer.

    Symbols and glyphs can currently be captured in images, but not yet “run” on a computer.

    Or the magical tech geeks are probably working on this problem with all the digital artists. The hacking scene is probably worse…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Umm, this might sound silly, but when the part about single spell sheets brought to mind binders. Like the one for music sheets. And the clear protectors to prevent damage and not use up space on the paper for the punch-holes.

    What -would- happen if someone punched holes onto a spell page? Explosions?

    I can see a lot of young spellists* using that method to keep track of their spells, especially high school/college students. Maybe business people?

    If cats are connected to the dryers, then maybe they’re guides for people who want the ‘weak spots’?

    Suddenly I see cats wearing a coin puch instead of a tag and demanding payment for tasks/errands that humans can’t/won’t do in the form of favors(belly rubs and catnip) and coin. Protection too from the more powerful ones probably.

    Makes me wonder what role other pets have in this ‘verse. Birds, dogs, bunnies, turtles, etc.

    If you want any ideas, I have a lot. I’m not a great writer, so I just jot down concepts and ideas that I like. I have more. (More like several hundred pages of disjointed mutterings and daydreams)

    *the term is not mine, it’s from a fanfic author, esama, who has really good fics! It’s the name of one of their stories.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Honestly, I’d worry less about volcanoes and earthquake country, then oceans and tornado alley. It’s traditional to brew up storms, even by accident, more then the other two(which tend to have more inertia, which makes sense.).

    Then again, the place you likely want your good sorcerers is in city planning, because if it is sigil and symbol based, geomancy will really kick things up. So, CU should really have an architecture department on both sides.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Definitely, but I was more thinking things like the summoning spell embedded into a building(the original Ghostbusters or more then a few others), Feng Shui, the comments in Bridge of Birds and the like.

        Then again, part of my childhood reading Edgar Cayce and the like, and the full ley line maps of Britian are just cool. I think geomancy is pretty underrated as a magic talent.

        That, and I’m having fun imagining their school cafeteria. The amount of issues they likely have is mindboggling. (“Yeah, the rule is that all eggshells have to be fully crushed. You don’t want to see what happens when they’re not.”)

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Chewing things over, I think one school couldn’t graduate enough secret technical specialists to police the construction volume in the United States alone.

        There are alternatives, but they depend on worldbuilding questions of ‘how secret is secret’, and level of government involvement.

        I think a government clearing house of all the as built drawings a) wouldn’t work and b) wouldn’t need the occult experts to have technical expertise. Reason I say wouldn’t work is that it should be possible to do the obvious critical glyphs on the side, hide them in walls, and leave them out of the as built drawings.

        (Fun story to do in this sort of universe. Some imaging specialist is involved in some form of novel NDE inspection of an old building, and finds rebar glyphs covered by concrete in the foundation. Who done it, and what other buildings have they done? What was the plan, and how well have the buildings survived over the decades waiting for it to bear fruit?)

        So I’m not sure that it is critical that the school have an engineering/architecture program.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Your ‘glyphs’ remind me of the Wheel of Time series, where casters manipulate streams of energy to get magical patterns that trigger different effects – spellcasting is called ‘weaving’ in-universe. Personally as a nerd I’ve always loved the idea of spell systems like this – it’s like magic is the underlying source code of the universe, and learning the lingo lets you get more out of the system than you’re technically supposed to. (Feel free to liken existing spells into pre-made programs).

    Liked by 1 person

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