Jump to content

Unified Source Theory: Ch'i, Magic, Psionics, and Cosmic Energy


Recommended Posts

In the CU other-dimensional planet of Lythrum, it's theorized that the dark matter of its dimension is suffused with magic, which both Lythruman sorcerers and scientists can tap and utilize for a wide range of effects, having "darkness" SFX. In fact Lythruman technology often incorporates magic, in ways Earthly practitioners of either discipline don't understand. Science and sorcery are so different as to normally be incompatible, but a few brilliant researchers, like Professor Paradigm, Gyre of the Devil's Advocates, and Baelrath of the Lemurians; and some races/civilizations such as the Lythrumans, the Elder Worm, and the Gremlins; have learned to blend them. Those examples could support an argument that science and magic are both aspects of something more fundamental.

 

(May I just add that I'm really enjoying this discussion.) :D

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 55
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

I don't much care for "magic causes super-powers," either, because it seems to privilege one mode of power over others. If it were up to me, but I was bound to preserve past published statements, I'd

Hmm... this is really interesting to contemplate. Perhaps "splunge" (to use the term we're currently operating with) is the power wielded by the conceptual entities, transcending other distinctions: a

Well, yes. Gyre was inspired in part by the Kabbalist tradition that students should have a study partner (and married, and over 40 -- let's pass by the "male" admonition...) to help keep them grounde

Posted Images

4 hours ago, AlgaeNymph said:

Adding on to that is a latter paragraph on the same page: 

 

The Atziluthic World also includes a fourth element, the “lost sephira” called DA’ATH: the link between Wisdom and Understanding, balanced in the Abyss between timeless Atziluth and the realms below. Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough, and a place to stand, and I will move the Earth.” Da’ath is that place. From Da’ath, a mystic can call on the limitless power of Binah, shape it with the archetypes of Chokmah, and cast his creation into the realms of Time. Only the mystic’s intelligence, patience, and skill limits what he can create, from a flower to a galaxy. What’s more, since Da’ath exists outside time, the mystic can insert his new creation at any point in history — past, present, or future. Da’ath’s nature renders it, rather understandably, one of the greatest secrets in sorcerous lore.

 

Looks like the kind of thing Cosmic Energy does.  Don't know for sure, but it's a starting point for research.  : )

 

If that's what you want to say cosmic energy is in your game, sure. But while cosmic energy in the source comics can do nearly anything, so can magic. So can psionic energy, certainly when it's pumped up to Phoenix Force level. Or Menton level, if we talk about the CU and Menton's latest incarnation. That quality alone wouldn't argue for any of these forces being more "fundamental" than the others.

 

In the Champions Multiverse, the higher planes of Yetzirah run according to magical principles. Cosmic power has only been mentioned in connection with Malkuth dimensions, like our universe. The beings and spirits of Yetzirah, even gods and dimension lords, don't use it as far as has been revealed. Whatever one would call the interaction of Binah and Chokmah, none of those existing terms appears adequate.

 

However, Da'ath is the link between the other two sephiroth, and also on the border between Atziluth and the lower planes. If conceptual entities draw on the power in Atziluth, Da'ath is probably their conduit. And maybe the actions of mortals can inadvertently pierce it and release "spills" of reality warping.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That' the source of most superpowers in my universe: dark matter.  Turns out the solar system is full of the stuff, but our atmosphere blocks it.  Undetectable, but its all over out there (called "Marlon Rays" by 1960 scientists).  The first astronauts came back kind of like the Fantastic Four, which was hushed up.

 

Pollution and nuclear testing weakened the shielding protecting the earth so a lot more got through recently, causing a major increase in superpowered people including mutants to appear in children of boomers and onward.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know the Four Zoas are from William Blake's poetry regarding religion and metaphysics, but I've never tended to think of them as "magic" in the same way that, say, the assorted pantheons of gods worshiped by human beings are. To my way of thinking they, and the forces/planes/emanations that are even higher up the Tree of Life, are operating in states of being where magic and cosmic are effectively the same thing. Sort of like how in Marvel comics Eternity and Death as conceptual entities first appeared in Dr. Strange books, but they are also known to and interact with Galactus, Captain Mar-vell, and other cosmic/scientific characters.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/11/2021 at 8:10 PM, AlgaeNymph said:

And you present it well.  Story-wise, I particularly like Kinetik's and Sapphire's lines as they'd show the attention to detail I'd put in my works.  : )

 

And if I understand the Mandaarian's claim correctly, we know how to make use of the fundamental source but don't even know what we're working with.  That about right?

 

One reason to present the theory through a story is to avoid being pinned down too precisely. 😉 But much depends on what you mean by "know how." My conception is that CU supers have no flipping clue that splunge is enabling technologies that otherwise wouldn't work, making magic easier, boosting ch'i, turning lethal accidents into mutagenic events, and otherwise making super-powers possible. Any direct manipulation of splunge is accidental, as in the case of the RSvKg. But your interpretation may be different, and I will not say it is wrong.

 

The Mandaarians understand splunge and make use of it through an instrumentality as precisely controlled as any human technology. (Note: "instrumentality." Calling it "technology" -- or for that matter "magic" -- would imply that splunge fits within those paradigms of knowledge and thinking when the whole point is that it doesn't.) Their best is, of course, far less advanced than what the Malvans developed.

 

Also keep in mind that the Mandaarian might be lying through her teeth. I want to keep that option open, too.

 

Dean Shomshak

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Matt the Bruins said:

I know the Four Zoas are from William Blake's poetry regarding religion and metaphysics, but I've never tended to think of them as "magic" in the same way that, say, the assorted pantheons of gods worshiped by human beings are. To my way of thinking they, and the forces/planes/emanations that are even higher up the Tree of Life, are operating in states of being where magic and cosmic are effectively the same thing. Sort of like how in Marvel comics Eternity and Death as conceptual entities first appeared in Dr. Strange books, but they are also known to and interact with Galactus, Captain Mar-vell, and other cosmic/scientific characters.

 

Yes! I've made that same argument before. Champions Beyond draws a pretty clear distinction between "cosmic" and "mystic" entities, but at the level of entities embodying fundamental concepts of Reality that distinction seems rather arbitrary, and as you point out doesn't really match the source material. (DC's New Gods also blur that line.)

 

In the CU making that distinction has also led to redundancies. Take Dean's definition in TMW of a major Archetype of Nature, the Triple Goddess, responsible for the cycle of Birth, Life, and Death. Yet CB describes a cosmic conceptual entity called Mortalus who essentially performs the same function, with the added dimension of acting to correct major imbalances in either Death or Life. I've considered rejiggering these cosmic types to fit within the framework of the Zoas and give them more interactive roles. In the case of the above examples, I postulate that while the Triple Goddess embodies the instinctive cycle of life, Mortalus embodies the balance of life, the equilibrium among all life forms within an environment. On that basis I would declare Mortalus an Archetype of Order.

Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

"Laboratory" presupposes a scientific approach.

I thought that's what we were doing here?  And isn't that what Anglestone Laboratories and the Goodman Institute do?

 

If I were to take a scientific approach (what other approach is there?) the first thing I'd do is measure what I know can be measured, such as the effects of powers on objects.  Even better if I can compare them to known constants (i.e., how much you need to heat up 1kg of H2O 1˚C).  That doesn't solve discerning the composition of the powers themselves, though comparing them to known energy sources would be a good start.  The training equipment at Ravenswood foremost comes to mind.

 

As for specifics:

  • Ch'i would have biomonitoring gear, given how often powers affect the body.  Particular focus would be on networked systems (particularly nervous and circulatory) and comparisons to theorized energy lines.
  • Magic would, of course have iconic hard-copy libraries, but would have book scanners as well.  Digitization's needed to input the data into informatics programs (see also: Gyre).
  • Psionics would absolutely require brain scanning equipment.  Neural nets and lab animals (and caught slavers) would also be required.  Given how it can get physical some of the above wouldn't be remiss.
  • Given how much Cosmic Energy an affect I'm baffled beyond 'all of the above.'  I suppose some geology equipment to learn the physical properties of a Cosmic Gem, for what that's worth.

 

Anyone have anything to add?

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, AlgaeNymph said:

 

If I were to take a scientific approach (what other approach is there?)

 

 

Well, the approaches that humanity has used for millennia to understand the universe, before empiricism came to dominate. Intuition. Philosophy. Metaphysics. Approaches which spawned the concepts of magic, and of ch'i. On real Earth the results of those approaches have been questionable at best, but on Champs Earth they're clear and undeniable. Sure, Angelstone Laboratories and the Goodman Institute study such phenomena, but have had very limited success duplicating or even explaining them. Notice that your own examples are attempts to study the effects of these forces, but can't detect and analyze the underlying causes. (Hearkening back to dark matter again.) ;) When you're dealing with something that can transcend or even alter physical laws, an approach designed to identify physical laws is rather iffy.

 

Let's look at a CU example, perhaps the most accomplished "technomancer" on Earth today, Gyre of the Devil's Advocates supervillain team (from Champions Villains Volume Two). Sarah Benton was a physics doctoral student when her parents, who were members of the Trismegistus Council, were killed in a car crash. Sarah inherited their occult library, but she had never shared their interest or belief in the occult.

 

"Sarah felt enough curiosity to read a few of the old books and her parents’ diaries before she threw them out. She read of planetary spirits and astral influences, of Hermes Trismegistus and the Kabbalah. It made an odd kind of sense... actually, some of this superstition had parallels in math and physics... if she used symbolic logic to cut through the archaic jargon and the contradictions....
A few months later, Sarah abandoned her dissertation. The occult concealed a strange and misunderstood science. If she could lay it bare, she would go down in history with Newton and Einstein! She raided the library for more mystic lore. The spinning of the astral spheres — Penrose’s twistor theory — the I Ching as a binary logic system for computation — Yes, she was close!

... The veil parted at last. Sarah chanted strange words for hours as she filled legal pads with diagrams that twisted into the fourth and fifth dimensions before her blurring eyesight, and for one shining, shattering moment, she knew. She saw the wheels of Ezekiel’s vision, and knew them for the spinning of protons and galaxies. She understood the cycle of creation and destruction, and the path from spirit to matter and back again. She knew God’s own equations for making universes." (CV2 p. 84)

 

I think the example of Gyre demonstrates the only approach likely to yield more fundamental insights into how these forces unite -- an integrated approach utilizing insights produced both by science and by "un-science," requiring expertise in multiple disciplines and belief systems not normally compatible. Gyre is one of the very few people with the breadth of brilliance to perceive some of those concordances.
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Instead of a scientific approach to magic, what about a mystical approach to science?

 

Many mystic traditions include rites and practices that are not meant to produce concrete results, but merely to hone the mystic's skills, attune his or her mind to the tradition's concepts, and reinforce belief in the overall paradigm (to borrow terminology from Mage: the Ascension). Buddhist meditations, Hindu austerities, religious rites of all kind, the Qabalistic Cross in Golden Dawn magic, reading contactee narratives among UFO believer groups, etc. Some contemporary occult types call this "theurgy" to distinguish it from the practical, results-oriented activities of "thaumaturgy." (Though these words mean different things in the CU.)

 

Science has this too. As part of a scientist's training, they perform standardized experiments whose results are known, such as rolling balls down ramps to replicate Galileo's work on falling bodies, mixing measured quantities of chemicals and measuring the preciptate from the reaction, or dissecting frogs. And if a student doesn't get the right results (in my high school chemistry class I once had an experimental error of more than 200%), it is not generally taken as evidence that science is a fraud. It is taken as evidence that the experimenter is a clumsy noob who will get better with practice. Persistent students generally do. (If they don't, they flunk out or become theoreticians.)

 

This is the theurgy of science. From a mystical perspective, the entire laboratory method of repeated experimentation, statistical analysis, equipment-checking and replication of results can be seen as a ritual process to reinforce belief in the system of science and strengthen the scientist's power to get results using that system.

 

Such a viewpoint will of course offend many scientists. Scientists with more of a sense of humor might accept the comparison, but suggest that their theurgic practices operate more successfully than those of the mystics who propose that science is just another form of magic. (At least, IRL thsat's the case.)

 

Dean Shomshak

For ch'i, the laboratory is the dojo. The theorgy, or experimental training, consists of katas, sparring matches, and such non-functional demonstrations of prowess as breaking boards with punches. It isn't as if the ability to break a board with a karate chop means people give up saws or axes; they demonstrate that the student has sufficient control of ch'i and the style's methods to achieve that result, which is taken as a proxy for other mastery.

 

Dean Shomshak

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, DShomshak said:

Science has this too. As part of a scientist's training, they perform standardized experiments whose results are known, such as rolling balls down ramps to replicate Galileo's work on falling bodies, mixing measured quantities of chemicals and measuring the preciptate from the reaction, or dissecting frogs. And if a student doesn't get the right results (in my high school chemistry class I once had an experimental error of more than 200%), it is not generally taken as evidence that science is a fraud. It is taken as evidence that the experimenter is a clumsy noob who will get better with practice. Persistent students generally do. (If they don't, they flunk out or become theoreticians.)

 

I've always maintained that results discarded as "experimental error" could be signs of something really significant, but are usually discounted out of hand because they don't fit orthodox expectations. "Science" can sometimes be as hidebound as religion. Discoveries come when researchers are willing to imagine a different perspective from which to look at data. Maybe in a super world there's even more potential in those "errors."

 

30 minutes ago, DShomshak said:

For ch'i, the laboratory is the dojo. The theorgy, or experimental training, consists of katas, sparring matches, and such non-functional demonstrations of prowess as breaking boards with punches. It isn't as if the ability to break a board with a karate chop means people give up saws or axes; they demonstrate that the student has sufficient control of ch'i and the style's methods to achieve that result, which is taken as a proxy for other mastery.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

Now I'm wondering if an experimental approach could be added to the discipline of martial arts in order to develop a new technique, even a new use of ch'i. I know there are modern martial arts like Krav Maga that were assisted in development with such scientific studies as kinesiology, but they lack the spiritual dimension of traditional arts, having the exclusive design goal of efficiency in defeating an opponent.

 

The Champions villain Green Dragon (CV3) is a powerful fighter, but has no patience or respect for the spiritual component of martial arts, and thus his skills are described as stagnating.

 

1 hour ago, DShomshak said:

Of course, Gyre is also quite mad. It's a common hazard for mystics who seek too far, too quickly.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

As has been said of Dr. Destroyer, is someone really insane if they can back it up? :think:

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had the idea for something called "biofusion", basically a biological equivalent to nuclear fusion.  Entities with a biofusion metabolism(in my campaign setting, most supers), process food vastly more efficiently than regular organisms do, converting a portion of the mass to energy.  Sufficient energy to punch through steel, run hundreds of miles per hour, fire laser beams from their eyes, and even throw tanks around.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/13/2021 at 6:37 PM, Lord Liaden said:

It made an odd kind of sense... actually, some of this superstition had parallels in math and physics... if she used symbolic logic to cut through the archaic jargon and the contradictions...

Yep, that's why I suggested number-crunchers for a Magic lab.

 

On 2/14/2021 at 10:30 AM, DShomshak said:

Of course, Gyre is also quite mad. It's a common hazard for mystics who seek too far, too quickly.

I fail to see her her ambition correlates to her personality disorder.  In any case, she just needs meds and a healthier social environment.

 

On 2/14/2021 at 10:58 AM, DShomshak said:

This is the theurgy of science. From a mystical perspective, the entire laboratory method of repeated experimentation, statistical analysis, equipment-checking and replication of results can be seen as a ritual process to reinforce belief in the system of science and strengthen the scientist's power to get results using that system.

Except science doesn't need belief, even in the rubber physics of the Champions setting.  Nor do metaphysical power sources.  Apt you mentioned Mage: the Ascension because I always found the Traditions pretty much trying to soft-sell a Dark Renaissance of their own.  Phil Masters goes into more detail with The Truth, Obviously, concluding such thinking is really about promoting radical politics.   Following that, "science vs. magic" only became a trope during the New Age age because of consumerism.  (Fitting it also mentions Changling: the Dreaming which conflates science with Banality.)  Though to be fair, there is the occasional enlightened wizard who conflates science and magic without any theocratic baggage.

 

On 2/14/2021 at 11:41 AM, Lord Liaden said:

Now I'm wondering if an experimental approach could be added to the discipline of martial arts in order to develop a new technique, even a new use of ch'i. I know there are modern martial arts like Krav Maga that were assisted in development with such scientific studies as kinesiology, but they lack the spiritual dimension of traditional arts, having the exclusive design goal of efficiency in defeating an opponent.

Now this is more what I'm getting at.  Now the question is: how would one use tech to aid the spiritual (or whatever Ch'i needs)?

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

4 hours ago, AlgaeNymph said:

Now this is more what I'm getting at.  Now the question is: how would one use tech to aid the spiritual (or whatever Ch'i needs).

Ch'I needs great health (learning martial arts helps with that), a great connection with the self (meditation helps with that), and a great teacher and a student willing to learn.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, AlgaeNymph said:

Now this is more what I'm getting at.  Now the question is: how would one use tech to aid the spiritual (or whatever Ch'i needs)?

 

On the purely practical level, I'm thinking bio-feedback would be the way to go. Science may not be able to detect or measure ch'i, but it can analyze the effect using ch'i in various ways has on the user's body. That could help them physically and mentally focus on the optimal disciplines to get the desired results.

 

But of course this isn't actually combining the technological with the spiritual, just using one to assist in developing specific expressions of the other.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/16/2021 at 12:34 AM, AlgaeNymph said:

Except science doesn't need belief, even in the rubber physics of the Champions setting.  Nor do metaphysical power sources.  Apt you mentioned Mage: the Ascension because I always found the Traditions pretty much trying to soft-sell a Dark Renaissance of their own.  Phil Masters goes into more detail with The Truth, Obviously, concluding such thinking is really about promoting radical politics.   Following that, "science vs. magic" only became a trope during the New Age age because of consumerism.  (Fitting it also mentions Changling: the Dreaming which conflates science with Banality.)  Though to be fair, there is the occasional enlightened wizard who conflates science and magic without any theocratic baggage.

 

Thank you, I'm up on the nature of RL science. I'm also familiar with several theories of magic from RL occult traditions, the anthropological literature, games and fiction. When I wear my game development hat I'll play around with any of them. Well, most of them. I fear I offended some people on alt.games.white-wolf when I pointed out that Werewolf: the Apocalypse emulates some Nazi ideas about the supernatural benefits of 'pure blood.'

 

Getting back on topic, OP asked if any of the stock super-power energy sources could encompass others. It wasn't completely clear that you meant to limit this to options that would work in the CU, or that you wanted to privilege some sources or models over others. So, I gave a way a certain model of magic could swallow up science, even if it can't work in the CU. I'm sorry if it wasn't what you wanted.

 

Now, my next post was going to be about P. E. I. Bonewitz's quasi-scientific explanation for magic, by way of psionics, from his book Real Magic. However, it also can't work in  the CU. Does anyone think it's worth bringing up?

 

Dean Shomshak

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, DShomshak said:

I fear I offended some people on alt.games.white-wolf when I pointed out that Werewolf: the Apocalypse emulates some Nazi ideas about the supernatural benefits of 'pure blood.'

Wasn't Nazism brought up every time the Get of Fenris were mentioned anyway?  Or is this about the Native American blood purity?

 

3 minutes ago, DShomshak said:

Now, my next post was going to be about P. E. I. Bonewitz's quasi-scientific explanation for magic, by way of psionics, from his book Real Magic. However, it also can't work in  the CU. Does anyone think it's worth bringing up?

I remember reading that, and mostly wondering "what game system is he referring to?"  Didn't map to GURPS, which you think it would have given the publisher (Steve Jackson Games) and how said system is analytical about everything.  Had to wait until GURPS Thaumatology for 4E, though.

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, DShomshak said:

Now, my next post was going to be about P. E. I. Bonewitz's quasi-scientific explanation for magic, by way of psionics, from his book Real Magic. However, it also can't work in  the CU. Does anyone think it's worth bringing up?

 

That is one of my favorite works that informs my magic system design.  I'd love to hear what you have to say about it!  

10 hours ago, AlgaeNymph said:

I remember reading that, and mostly wondering "what game system is he referring to?"  Didn't map to GURPS, which you think it would have given the publisher (Steve Jackson Games) and how said system is analytical about everything.  Had to wait until GURPS Thaumatology for 4E, though.

 

I think you're thinking of his other book, Authentic Thaumaturgy, which is a gaming supplement.  I've gotten more gaming use out of Real Magic, myself.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/10/2021 at 2:10 PM, Christopher R Taylor said:

I like completely disunified powers, magic is not science is not mysticism is not chi is not etc.  Science cannot figure out or do magic or vice versa

I completely agree with this, and it extends all the way to my fantasy worldbuilding. Magic is in the world, the reality is a magical one. Players who want to seem like "Wizards" or "Magicians" will have to interact with a multitude of unique elements deliberately.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...