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Offline krome

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Spectrum Magic
« on: January 17, 2005, 09:49:57 AM »
As the forum suggests, I've got a sort of half-idea about how magic would work in my world, but I need some help with the details.

Say that magic was like light, and was based on the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.  It doesn't necessarily have to stick to those colors, but just for example.  Now, the way that light works, red is the lowest frequency, or rather, has the least amount of light waves passing a single point in a second.  Violet has the highest.  

My first thought was that that would make red, the lowest frequency, the least powerful and violet - or maybe white, a combination of spectrum - the most powerful, but that's boring.  

Here are some questions I'm thinking about:
- Can mages only work magic on one frequency, depending on their tradecraft?  My world already has the mage tradecrafts set: Skirmish and Battle Mages, Weathervane mages, Light/Heat mages, Druidic Mages, that sort of thing, and one trade is not necessarily more powerful or skilled than the others, so how does manipulation of magic work?

- What do the different "frequencies" do?  A higher frequency has what advantages over the lower frequencies, and vice versa?  I was thinking that perhaps the different "frequencies" can effect different types of things, white being able to manipulate mind or being the type that Druidic mages can use to call animals, communicate with spirits and trees and that sort of thing, but what about manipulating the elements?

- How does a mage cultivate his magic in this situation?

Any ideas are more than welcome. Thanks, guys.

Krome

Offline Cheka Man

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Spectrum Magic
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2005, 10:00:20 AM »
Red/Amber could be the magic of fireballs, lights, ect.
Yellow/Green/Blue could be healing magic and most non-violent magic.
Indigo/Violet could be the darker spells.
White could be mind magic, Black could be necromancy.

Just an idea.

Offline CaptainPenguin

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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2005, 10:20:41 AM »
Well, no, black is the absence of white, and thus (generally) the absence of color, so it would be anti-magic.

Let's think ROYGBV
Red-
Orange-
Yellow-
Green-
Blue-
Violet-
White-
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Offline krome

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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2005, 10:43:52 AM »
Yeah, anti-magic is definitely what I was thinking for black.  Long story, but basically "anti-magic" is going to be something that comes in and surprises (and kills) nearly everyone in a pivotal ocean battle.  Let's see...

I guess the question really is what is the nature of things that can be effected?  Is "low frequency" magic just less powerful, or does it effect a different nature of thing?  

So it could be arranged one of several ways:

1. Take a fire, for example.  To light a small twig alight, you would use a lower frequency.  Red.  Light intensity.  But to burn a city, or to create cold magical flames that can't be put out by water, or something equaly drastic, you'd need a high intensity.  Blue or violet.  Basically, the higher the "frequency", the greater the power.

Personally I think that's boring as all hell.

2.  Contrary to convention, red, being a light sort of intensity, would be used in more delicate, light magics.  Healing, for example, would be low-frequency magic.  To do things that require a lot of intensity, making a cloaking shield, reading thoughts or telepathy, that would require a greater intensity.  

This one has a lot of holes in it.

3.  Since the waves in the lower frequencies' wavelengths are further apart, they would be less concentrated and less precise.  You could create large fires, and do things that did not require too much precision - displacing ground, causing gusty winds, etc.  The higher the "frequency", the more precise your actions could be.  Target specific points, form weapons or objects from the elements.  

That's about as far as I've come in this thought process.

Offline Cheka Man

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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2005, 11:58:47 AM »
Only a few mages could do high-frequency magic, I would think, unless it was a very high magic world.

Offline Iain

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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2005, 12:27:27 PM »
This spectrum magic seems like a cool idea with lots of potential! Just to take a slightly different tack on the same theme:

If we're comparing magic to light in the way you're talking about here, you're essentially saying that it propagates as a wave. This means that all the normal phenomena which affect waves (e.g. reflection, refraction, diffraction, interference) will affect magic (and can be used to interfere with magic).

I'm not sure what materials (probably not something as common as glass) would reflect etc. but there should be something, even if it's really rare.

Just a few ideas for each phenomena (but this is probably just scratching the surface):

Diffraction

Long wavelength magic will be able to bend round corners better than short range. You could get a "burst" effect by shooting a ray or "plane wave" spell and getting it to diffract through a narrow hole. Multi-slit barriers would create interference patterns. Diffraction gratings could be used to focus multiple beams in several far apart areas at once.

Interference

Somewhere with lots of spells being used at once (e.g. a battlefield) will experience interference, meaning that some areas will be walloped by very high intensity magic (constructive interference) whilst other areas, seemingly in the middle of it all, will be untouched (destructive interference).

Refraction

Not too many ideas here - maybe could cause targeting problems if sending a spell under water/through walls? Hey, you might be able to bounce spells off the atmosphere like radio waves - ultra long range.

Reflection

The most obvious. This has enormous potential for defending fortresses, etc. You would just need a few of these in corridors and your mage could stay nice and safe inside and blast these down some dog-leg corridors with mirrors at the bends. Of course, this is a dangerous tactic as the enemy could blast back once he figured out what was going on.

Another idea along the same line is an "artillery spotter" tactic. Your mage stays nice and protected a way back from the front lines of the battle. You then send up some poor soldier on to a hill or other useful point with one of these mirrors. He then uses the mirror to reflect your mage's spells down to the enemy. If they counter-attack and kill him - well, the poor guy with the mirror is less valuable to the kingdom than their top mage.

Another less combative use would be to create arrays of mirrors to focus spells (possibly in a room). If they were arranged right I think you should be able to focus a diffuse spell such as a fireball in to a tiny spot like a laser. Maybe you could make a portable device with these inside (the mirrors inside would be very fragile though). You could maybe make some more advanced optical devices (e.g. Fabry-Perot Etalon's; interferometers, etc: these use either just or mainly mirrors) to do stuff; without thinking about it a lot I'm not sure exactly what these would do to spells but I'm sure they'd have some kind of interesting effect. In fact, it could be a top area of research with some wizards: "Hey, what happens if we examine each "wavelength" of this fireball/polymorph/healing spell separately?" Perhaps they might discover key "spectral lines" in them, thus allowing them to identify the crucial elements of magic in a spell (which would help in creating new ones).
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Offline krome

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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2005, 12:46:37 PM »
Holy crap, I think you did it.  

Hey, CaptainPenguin, you know that headache we were talking about?  It's gone.  

Thanks man!

-K

Offline Kinslayer

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Spectrum Magic
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2005, 03:30:48 PM »
Using visible light as the basis for magic has the interesting effect that magic is now line-of-sight.  

There is a flaw, in that the closer to purple/violet, both power and precision increase, as described.  Since neither frequency nor wavelength depend upon source intensity or illumination, there's no reason for any mage to use any colour of magic other than purple.  

With light, wavelength increases as frequency decreases, since the light is always travelling at the same speed through whatever media regardless of colour.  

I think it's more problematic than it's worth to base power level or precision on this factor (especially associating the two as synonymous) but perhaps using effects based upon colours might be a better solution.  You could even reduce things to the base colours. such as red for energy, blue for matter, and green for sensing.  The exact effects are then created by combining colours, for example, yellow would allow a spell that senses power levels, such as for life-detection.
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